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Settlers take over 7 E. Jerusalem homes in dead of night

‘Settlers say that they bought the house, but they haven’t shown us any documents,’ says one Palestinian woman whose home settlers took over Tuesday morning. ‘Now they’re sleeping in my bed; all of our clothes and furniture is still inside.’

By Orly Noy

Israeli settlers took over seven homes in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem Tuesday morning, primarily in Wadi Hilwe, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare. According to residents, the settlers arrived at around 2 a.m., escorted by large numbers of riot police.

“I was still awake, here in the store,” said neighborhood resident Ahmed Qareen, the owner of a small market in Wadi Hilwe. “I saw a large group of settlers and police but I didn’t think that they were going to take more homes. I assumed that it was somehow related to your (Jewish) holidays now, that they were walking around here at such an hour.”

The Hayat family home in Silwan, September 30, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The Hayat family home in Silwan, September 30, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

One of the houses that the settlers took over in the dead of night was the Hayat family home. Like many other houses in the neighborhood, the building is split into a number of apartment units, most of which are occupied by family members. Two of them are now occupied by settlers.

In the building’s internal stairwell that connects the apartments, sits Bushra Hayat, whose eyes are dashing back and forth tracking the police officers walking into the apartment that until yesterday was hers. “We have two apartments here, one that my father rents out and we live in the other one. The two apartments were empty yesterday. My father wasn’t here and I slept at my uncle’s house, here, downstairs. They knew ahead of time when the houses would be empty and that’s why they came [now].”

“They know what we are doing at all times,” Ahmed Qareen says with a smile. “Look around: the whole neighborhood is full of their security cameras, some of them are pointed directly into our houses. They know better than us what’s happening here.”

Israeli riot police at the entrance to the Hayat family home, September 30, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli riot police at the entrance...

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In my name, in your name, in all of our names

We talk endlessly about equality and feminism while putting up with a bunch of greedy pyromaniacs controlling the Middle East and running a war over our heads, a war in which we are but extras. And yet the role they assign us is instrumental: we are factories for their cannon fodder.

By Naamit Mor Haim (translated from Hebrew by Dr. Assaf Oron)

During this recent Gaza war and its various ceasefires, I found myself astonished at the catch-phrase popular among the Israeli left – on banners at demonstrations and plastered social-media profile pictures, bold white letters against a black background, in three languages: “Not in my name!”

OK, I thought, I never passed my high school matriculation exams. My academic career ended around the fourth grade. I can vaguely remember a single lesson in government I attended during my school years, and in that lesson I kept asking Rakefet, who sat next to me, what the hell they’re talking about. No wonder it has taken me decades to figure out what democracy is and how it relates to me. To understand that it’s not just the job of a smug bunch with suits, cigars and a mandate to run each and every single thing; that it is also my responsibility. But I wonder what excuse are all the nerds who did go to all those lessons and crammed for their matriculation exams claiming? Where is everyone with a college degree, or those who have worked in civil service? Haven’t you learned about the government by consent of the people? Everyone is a lamb led to the ballot?

I am most troubled by the situation among women, who have been collapsing emotionally for the past few months, to an extent not remembered since the jolly days of Lebanon. At first I thought it was the manner of fighting and its oversight, with needless casualties on a daily basis, disrupting the existence of at least half the nation on multiple levels, with neither a clear resolution nor a horizon for the future.

But during those two months of war I realized that the horror has risen among my female friends of all walks of life, at the fact that all this was being carried out without our involvement, that our way of thinking is absent from the decision-making circles, that our values and priorities are declared illegitimate whenever they contain a hint of...

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Israel's newest Supreme Court justice and rule of law in Israel

Menachem ‘Meni’ Mazuz’s recent appointment to the Supreme Court reveals, yet again, that the borders of the rule of law lie only with those who are considered part of the ‘Jewish nation,’ not all of Israel’s citizens.

By Salah Mohsen

The appointment of Menachem “Meni” Mazuz to the Israeli Supreme Court did not raise any debate within the Israeli public. If this was a truly democratic society, which emphasizes the importance of respecting the opinions and status of its national minority, this appointment would never have been made at all.

There are many reasons why Meni Mazuz should not have been accepted into the Supreme Court. The most important of these is that Mazuz, in his capacity as attorney general, was the person who decided in January 2008 to close the investigation files into the killing of 13 young Palestinian citizens of Israel by the police during the October 2000 events. Mazuz made this decision despite the strong and clear recommendations of the State Commission of Inquiry, headed by former justice Theodor Or, which stated that some of the cases held enough evidence to indict the officers responsible, while other cases warranted further investigation.

Menachem "Meni" Mazuz, Israeli Supreme Court justice. (Photo: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Menachem “Meni” Mazuz, Israeli Supreme Court justice. (Photo: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The timing of the appointment of Mazuz to the Supreme Court – just two weeks before Palestinian citizens mark the 14th anniversary of the October 2000 killings – is indicative of the contempt towards Israel’s Palestinian minority, and adds to their growing feelings of frustration and anger. A week after Mazuz’s decision in 2008 to close the investigation files into the October 2000 killings, Palestinian citizens organized the largest demonstrations since “Land Day” in 1976.

Mazuz is not the only person responsible for the failure of the October 2000 investigations to then be promoted to higher positions in Israeli institutions. For example, another current Supreme Court Justice, Elyakim Rubinstein, served as attorney general at the time of the killings and did not fulfill his duty to advance investigations into the events. Other individuals responsible include Shai Nitzan, the deputy attorney general who headed the sub-committee that recommended the closure of the files, who was promoted to state prosecutor; and Benzi Sau, the police commander of...

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Why it may be time to rethink Abbas

There is great desire and momentum for change in Israel and Palestine, yet a dire lack of leadership to harness it. If given the international support he needs, could Mahmoud Abbas be the one to guide that change?

By Abraham Gutman

Last week, on my way to listen to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speak at Cooper Union, I was talking to my sister on the phone. I told her that I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel going into the speech. As an Israeli, I tend to automatically get defensive when it comes to issues of Israel and Palestine. But as a strong proponent of the two-state-solution, and one who believes that peace is possible, I was excited to hear what Abbas had to say. One of the first sentences of his address, which also became one of the main themes of his speech, was “I came here to ask you to rethink Palestine.” I am writing this now to ask you to rethink Abbas.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses students at the Great Hall of The Cooper Union, New York City, September 22, 2014. (photo: Abraham Gutman)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses students at the Great Hall of The Cooper Union, New York City, September 22, 2014. (photo: Abraham Gutman)

Unlike Netanyahu, Abbas doesn’t have a perfect American accent when he speaks English, nor the charm and charisma of Barak Obama, but when was the last time that either of them received a standing ovation from a room full of both “pro-Israel” and “pro-Palestine” students? “Prime Minister Netanyahu: End the occupation, make peace!” Abbas repeated. I was sold.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think Netanyahu was just waiting for Abbas to demand an end to the occupation, and now that’s it, problem solved. But as an Israeli it is so rare to feel part of the solution. Most of the time I find myself defending the problem with statements I don’t really believe, just because I feel trapped and on the defensive.

Abbas shared with the audience his prayer for peace: “Will you join this old man in his prayer? Will you help me to build a peaceful world? I am sure your answer is yes, we will.” Israel lacks leadership, and Israel’s government lacks moral fiber. What if...

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The illusion of religious freedom in Jerusalem

Official Israel loves to boast of the complete freedom of worship it grants to members of all religions. In reality, however, it’s just another deception brought to you by your local ‘hasbara’ dealer.

By Orly Noy

Israeli Border Police officers stand at the entrance to Jerusalem's Old City, as they prevent Muslim Palestinian worshippers from attending Friday prayers in Al Aqsa mosque, September 26, 2014. (Photo by Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

Israeli Border Police officers stand at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, as they prevent Muslim Palestinian worshippers from attending Friday prayers in Al Aqsa mosque, September 26, 2014. (Photo by Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

One of the main tools in the Israeli hasbara toolbox is the ‘religious freedom’ discourse. As subscribers of the “villa in the jungle” worldview, Israel advocates never miss an opportunity to emphasize the religious freedoms that Israel supposedly gives to believers of all faiths, unlike its Arab neighbors. Prime Minister Netanyahu, especially, loves to make this claim — and he repeats it ad nauseam. For instance, in a special message at the dedication ceremony for the Hurva (“Ruin”) Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem a few years ago, he said:

The papal visit to Israel this year was yet another chance for Netanyahu to reiterate:

Of course, that tolerant paradise is not quite the reality we live in. The daily reality that the occupation brings to the Old City of Jerusalem is not that of free men of different religions who have unhindered access to their holy places; it is a reality of structured conflict between occupiers and the occupied. First off, there are the more than 2 million West Bank Palestinians living under Israeli military rule who need special permits to even enter Jerusalem, permits that we know are handed out sparingly at best.

However, even for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem itself, access to the Aqsa compound is not guaranteed: it is regularly restricted according to the whims of Israeli authorities. During the recent Rosh Hashana holiday, for example, Israeli police prevented Muslim men under the age of 50 from entering the compound; while flocks of Jewish worshipers flooded toward the Western Wall, Muslim worshipers stood facing down a wall of police separating them from the mosque.

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The perennial dilemma of liberal Zionism

For over a century, liberal Zionists have attempted to reconcile universal humanism with Zionist nationalism. A review of two prominent thinkers who failed.

By Ran Greenstein

The prospect of impending doom facing Liberal Zionism has been raised time and again in recent months, from the inane apologetics of Ari Shavit to the more sophisticated discussions of Jonathan Freedland in the NY Review of Books and Roger Cohen in the New York Times, culminating with the highly critical approach of Antony Lerman, also in the Times.

While the war in Gaza played a role in this wave of lamentation, it is in no way a new phenomenon. In fact, it has been a feature of discussions in the Zionist movement from its inception, forcing Liberal adherents to choose, at times of crisis, between their universal values and ethnic political loyalties. Historically, dropping the Liberal component has been the most common response to such dilemma, with only a few dissidents opting rather to abandon Zionism.

The core arguments used in such debates have changed little over the years. It would be instructive here to look at one movement, the epitome of Liberal Zionism in its time. Brit Shalom, which operated between 1925 and 1933 and was known for its advocacy of bi-nationalism, experienced tensions between its broad Liberal principles and the narrow demands of the Zionist project. These were captured in particular in the work of its founder, Arthur Ruppin, known as “the father of Jewish settlement.” He was torn between his Labor Zionist allies, who regarded Brit Shalom as “delusional,” and his radical colleagues who called for a representative government in Palestine, in line with universal democratic values but against the wishes of the Zionist leadership.

Arthur Ruppin

Arthur Ruppin

Ruppin’s concerns, expressed in his diaries from the late 1920s/early 1930s, stemmed from the “very serious contradictions of interest between the Jews and the Arabs.” It was impossible to reconcile “free immigration and free economic and cultural development” for Jews – the essential conditions for Zionism – with the interests of Arab residents of Palestine: “any place where we buy land and settle people on it, of necessity requires that the current cultivators be removed from it, be they owners or tenants.” Further, although the principle of Hebrew Labor was “in accordance with our...

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Watch out war criminals, Mahmoud Abbas is coming for you

The PLO chairman told the UN that he won’t allow war criminals to escape punishment. The only problem: He still hasn’t applied to join the International Criminal Court, the one act that could actually lead to such punishment.

By Talal Jabari

There was an image that circulated on social media a few years ago that showed the area most of us consider to be Palestine – meaning the land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as an archipelago. It’s really not that far off.

The permanent checkpoints across the West Bank make clear that travel for Palestinians is a privilege and not a right. And no, I’m not talking about the terminals used to enter, or rather prevent entry into Israel. I’m talking about checkpoints like the “Container” checkpoint that is opened or closed seemingly at the whim of the commanding officer, thus transforming it from a checkpoint into a roadblock, and disconnecting the southern islands of the archipelago from the northern ones.

I personally hold this checkpoint dear to my heart. I have driven through it many a time, and have returned to find it blocked on quite a few occasions as well.

Illustrative photo of Israeli soldiers closing an internal West Bank checkpoint, May 15, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz/ Acitvestills.org)

Illustrative photo of Israeli soldiers closing an internal West Bank checkpoint, May 15, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz/ Acitvestills.org)

You can probably imagine, as the only road between the northern islands and the southern ones, this passage sees quite a bit of traffic. There are numerous private cars dotted between dozens of public orange taxi mini-buses. There are buses full of students visiting other islands for their school trips. But what always brings a grin to my face, are the Palestinian “National Security” Land Rovers and police cruisers traveling back and forth on this road. It’s not that I think those vehicles are particularly funny; what is amusing is that they have to cover their blue police lights with canvas, the officers inside need to be out of uniform, and of course they must be unarmed.

In fact, that’s the way they have to be whenever they travel outside of “Palestinian- controlled” territories. Yes, I put those words in quotes to highlight the farce that concept really is.

Here’s how ridiculous...

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Letter to the EU: Help! Everybody here has lost their minds

An open letter to the president of the Council of the EU: Don’t give us any more money to pay for the salaries and air conditioners, not in Tel Aviv and not in Ramallah. As far as I’m concerned, my Horizon 2020 is stuck underneath some house in Gaza that collapsed atop all of its inhabitants from an Israeli missile strike.

By Yoav Shemer Kunz

Italian Prime Minister and President of the Council of the European Union Matteo Renzi. (File photo by the EU)

Matteo Renzi. (Photo by the EU)

To:

His Excellency Matteo Renzi
Prime Minister of Italy
Current President of the Council of the European Union

I regretfully inform you that the citizens of the State of Israel have completely and officially lost their minds. It is pathological. Regrettable news, indeed.

It happened not too long ago. We saw a deterioration or two earlier, of course. But ever since they spent three weeks looking for three bodies in an operation very movingly described as “Brothers’ Keeper,” they completely lost it. And after that? Protective Edge. I’m telling you, Israeli society has lost it.

Yes, saw it coming. There were warning signs. Thank you for the commiserations. Yes, it is official: the situation is terminal and incorrigible. It is over. Don’t try to talk to anyone here; they don’t recognize anybody. And don’t tell them I spoke to you; they’ll come up with some law that bans meetings with foreign prime ministers without the expressed approval of Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor.

No, really. You have nothing to do here. They’ll say that you punched Avigdor Liberman in the back and everybody will buy it. Let me remind you of our lovely bearded friend, German EU Parliament President Martin Schulz’s speech at the Knesset in Jerusalem. He made the mistake of momentarily mentioning a young man who told him something during his visit to Ramallah, and that was it. He completely burned himself with that. That’s how it is over here now. In German, no less!

To make a long story short, It’s gone to hell. We’re completely helpless. That which we have dreaded has finally come. Death has its own government. However you want to put it. Poems can be written about it. “Breaking the Silence” will publish it in a special edition...

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Representing Palestine, not Israel: Arab Idol's contestants from Israel

The Shin Bet interrogated them, the judges were sympathetic. Their selection as representatives of Palestine, however, sparked a political controversy. Will Manal Moussa or Haitham Khalailah, both Palestinians from within Israel’s borders, manage to repeat Mohammed Assaf’s achievement and win the Arab Idol contest?

By Yael Marom (translated from Hebrew by Shoshana London-Sapir)

One year after Gazan Mohammed Assaf won Arab Idol, the Palestinians have two new and promising contestants in the pan-Arab competition in Beirut. Manal Moussa, 25, from Deir al-Asad and Haitham Khalailah, 24, from the neighboring village of Majd al-Krum were chosen to represent Palestine in the contest, one of the most widely watched programs in the Middle East.

But for Manal and Haitham it is not only a personal opportunity, they are also navigating a complex political reality: the Shin Bet, Israeli legal restrictions on the travel of Palestinian citizens, the complicated relationship between Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Arab world, and a huge sack of political expectations placed on their shoulders.

Haitham Khalailah’s first audition (Screenshot from Arab Idol, MBC)

Haitham Khalailah’s first audition (Screenshot from Arab Idol, MBC)

Hundreds of millions of viewers watch the contest, broadcast for the third year on the Saudi MBC network, uniting the whole Arab world around it. Most of them are young people, of course. The contestants are judged for their musical abilities, performance and charisma, but regional politics also plays a role.

The last program before the live performance stage of the contest aired last Saturday night, and 26 (9 women and 17 men) out of 52 contestants were selected to move on to the next round. The two Palestinian representatives from northern Israel made the cut. The contest also included three brothers, the children of Palestinian refugees living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. One of the brothers also moved up to the live performance round.

Traveling to Lebanon through the PA

This year’s contestants also included male and female singers from Iraq and Syria who sang in Kurdish, Assyrians and Turkmen. The last selection stage included a contestant from Japan (a student of Arabic and oud player) and two devout Muslim women from Egypt and Algeria who appeared with their heads covered. To reach the live performance stage, contestants had to defeat tens of thousands of others who were tested in preliminary auditions all over...

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The mirage of Israel's 'diplomatic horizon'

The term ‘diplomatic horizon,’ a catch-phrase among Israeli politicians and the media, points to the need to offer a viable diplomatic plan together with military efforts against Palestinian violence. But can it offer Palestinians a real vision for their longing for statehood?

By Prof. Elie Podeh

Israeli political jargon occasionally invents “laundered” terms designed to create an illusion of a reality that does not exist. Such is the concept of the “diplomatic horizon,” which has become popular among politicians and the media. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during Operation Protective Edge, said on August 20 that “dramatic changes in the region promise a new political horizon.” What is this political/diplomatic horizon that has become such a catch-phrase?

It is difficult to trace the term’s origin. Haaretz’s archive, which provides statistical testing from only as far back as late 2001, reveals that since then the phrase has appeared hundreds of times in the paper, and in various political contexts.

In an editorial dated May 5, 2002 – during Operation Defensive Shield, at the height of the Second Intifada – and titled “Diplomatic Action Plan,” we learn that “in the past year the term ‘diplomatic horizon’ has taken root as an expression used commonly to describe the need to accompany military efforts against Palestinian violence with a viable diplomatic plan. Behind this phrase lies the recognition for the need to present the Palestinians with a vision – a goal – that can answer their longing for statehood. Such an initiative has been absent until the present from the stockpile of the Prime Minister’s [Ariel Sharon] ideas.” It is therefore reasonable to assume that the disappearance of the policy option – the failure of the Camp David talks (July 2000), the Clinton Parameters (December 2000), the Taba talks (January 2001) and the onset of the Second Intifada – has generated the need for a glimmer of hope in the form of a “diplomatic horizon.”

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in Tel Aviv, December 16, 2001. (Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO)

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in Tel Aviv, December 16, 2001. (Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO)

In general, the term was employed in the past by media pundits and politicians who identified as left-of-center. For instance, Joel Marcus and Aluf Benn in Haaretz once criticized the Sharon government for its lack...

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How the army helps settlers establish illegal outposts

Through the use of civilian security coordinators in settlements and outposts, the IDF has, essentially, privatized law enforcement in the West Bank. A further aspect of this symbiotic relationship is the army’s use of the coordinators to promote de facto recognition of unauthorized settler outposts.

By Yossi Gurvitz, for Yesh Din

A Jewish settler from the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Yair chases the flock and threatens the shepherds of Gwawis. He is holding an M16 rifle, issued to him by the Israeli army, as part of his paid job as a security coordinator. The law states that he is not allowed to take any action outside the settlements' borders, September 18, 2012. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

A Jewish settler from the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Yair chases a flock and threatens shepherds of Gwawis. He is holding an M16 rifle, issued to him by the Israeli army as part of his paid job as a security coordinator. The law states that he is not allowed to take any action outside the settlement’s borders, September 18, 2012. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Our first post about our report “The Lawless Zone” focused on the unclear relationship through which Israel effectively privatizes powers in the field of defense, law enforcement and policing, and transfers these to Israeli settlers. The security coordinators are residents of West Bank settlements who receive quasi-military powers. Although they are not formally empowered to issue commands to soldiers, in practice they do so, and in many cases they exploit their powers in order to expand their settlements’ territory.

This is the main problem created by the institution of the security coordinators, and accordingly our key recommendation is that the army should reassume these powers and appoint security coordinators who are officers in the permanent army and are accountable solely to the army and not to the settlements. There is another problem, however, one that highlights the symbiotic relationship between the army and the settlers.

Read the full Yesh Din report here

In the mid-1990s, the Israeli government decided not to establish new settlements unless they were approved by the entire government. Since then the phenomenon of the “outposts” has developed. An outpost is the result of the seizure of land that is ostensibly private and unauthorized, but enjoys...

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'A new page in human history': Darfuri refugee on landmark court ruling

Mutasim Ali is happy but he is not celebrating the landmark court ruling that will set him and thousands of other African asylum seekers free by the end of the year. There is a long, bumpy road ahead, he says, but ‘Israel will be a better place and it is our responsibility to make it so.’

By Mutasim Ali

Asylum seekers demonstrate in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on the first day of a three-day strike protesting detentions and demanding refugee status, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers demonstrate in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on the first day of a three-day strike protesting detentions and demanding refugee status, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

A new dawn has come. A tremendous success has been achieved by everyone who believes in justice and equal rights for mankind. I wasn’t surprised by the resolution of High Court of Justice. No smart person would think differently.

The reason why I expected this [decision] is the same reason why I am in Israel. Israel is the only democratic and lawful country in the Middle East. Trust me when I say this; I believe in the Israeli judicial system and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Read also: Israel’s High Court orders closure of ‘Holot’

I’m happy not only because this is what we are looking for — we have worked so hard to make this happen and the journey is still very long. The path ahead will be bumpy but we made a commitment never to give up and we have to finish what we have started. This is not about us but it is also about Israel and Israelis: never lose hope and never lose faith. Israel will be a better place and it is our responsibility to make it so.

Mutasim Ali, an asylum seeker from Darfur, waves as he departs Tel Aviv for the Holot detention center, May 5, 2014. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The author, Mutasim Ali, waves as he departs Tel Aviv for the Holot detention center on May 5, 2014. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

I am not celebrating this, because this is normal — what should happen. I knew from day one that Holot was illegal and that it was only a matter...

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Space for perpetuating the conflict: Tunnels, deterrence and profits

Israeli leaders cannot escape the idea that Palestinians must be controlled, all the time and in all areas of life. Indeed, if controlling the Palestinians is everything we want, then the separation wall and the ‘Iron Dome’ are excellent solutions. The longer this snowball rolls, however, any non-military option is ruled out more aggressively, and even relatively moderate military options become irrelevant.

By Idan Landau

It became official this summer: tunnels are the new centrifuges. For years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been waving the Iranian threat in front of us, and one morning we woke up and… poof! – the threat vanished, at least from most of the prime minister’s speeches.

Then came the rockets – from Hezbollah and Hamas. The Israeli hasbara machine painted that capability in demonic dimensions, used to justify every crime and injustice against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza. And yet, after each Israeli military operation Hezbollah and Hamas improved their ability to launch rockets.

But then the tunnels made an appearance, followed by their offspring: smuggling tunnels, terror tunnels, explosive tunnels, launching tunnels, and most recently – infiltration tunnels.

We need to raise some serious questions about the tunnels, just a moment before they become a holy cow no one can question.

Israeli soldiers discover a tunnel in the Gaza Strip during ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ July 20, 2014. (Photo by IDF Spokesperson)

Israeli soldiers discover a tunnel in the Gaza Strip during ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ July 20, 2014. (Photo by IDF Spokesperson)

My starting point is an extensive post I wrote two and a half years ago about the special elite combat engineering unit of the IDF, Yahalom, which described its deeds from the days of operation Cast Lead to today. A part of it was dedicated to the significant efforts that the IDF is investing, both technological and operational, in the training of this unit for “tunnel combat.” I emphasize the expression “tunnel combat,” not to be confused with “tunnel detection” and “tunnel destruction,” which are the focus of public attention these days. It’s not the same thing, though by the end we’ll see that the conclusions are not significantly different.

That is what I wrote then:

The notable examples from our days are the tunnels that the Chinese dug in Ranzhuang against the...

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