Don’t tell us about Russia’s (alleged) atrocities in Ukraine – until you’ve dealt with 70-plus years of Israeli atrocities in Palestine

Israeli war crimes in Gaza
By Stuart Littlewood

Right now the air is thick with accusations against Russia for atrocities in Ukraine, especially the alleged massacre of civilians. And leading the charge is US President Joe Biden, demanding the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates. The US withdrew from membership of the ICC in 2002 citing concerns that it clashed with the US Constitution. Well, that’s its story.

Israel isn’t a member either and refuses point-blank to cooperate with the ICC’s investigations into its war crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank since 2014. But Israel’s outrages against the Palestinians go back a long way before then.

We’ve all heard about the Deir Yassin massacre. Here’s an account of what happened:

The Irgun attacked the village from the south east, Stern attacked it from the east while the Haganah bombarded the village with mortars. Around 80 Palestinian villagers fought heroically and tried to protect the residents and the village from the over 1000 Zionist terrorists, but, with few guns and limited ammunition, they had little chance against fully-armed terror gangs. In this three-front battle, the Zionists used all sort of automatic weapons, missiles, cannons and tanks.

The fighting continued until around 15:30 afternoon when the Palestinians ran out of ammunition. The Zionists opened fire at whoever they caught trying to escape, and then moved into the village and started their “clean up”: they moved from one house to the other, torturing civilians before killing them, executing the injured, raping women, slaughtering children. Those who weren’t killed by machine guns or grenades were slaughtered with knives. Whole families were lined up against the wall of their homes and executed. Pregnant women were bayoneted and the bodies of children were mutilated. Money and jewellery were snatched from the bodies of victims and other personal belongings were stolen before houses were burnt. Of the 144 houses of Deir Yassin, at least 15 were blown up over the heads of their inhabitants by the Zionist terror gangs.

Most sources put the number of martyrs at 254, some up to 360, including 25 pregnant women who were bayoneted and 52 children who were maimed in front of their mothers before being beheaded and the mothers slain, and 60 other women and girls were also killed and their bodies mutilated. The bodies were found in houses and under the rabble of the destroyed homes, including the maimed bodies and parts of bodies of 150 women, children and elderly and many were scattered along the streets of the village. In addition to those butchered in their homes, 25 Palestinian men were rounded up by the Zionist terrorists, loaded onto a truck and paraded through Jerusalem in a sort of “victory tour” before being executed at a nearby quarry and buried in a mass grave.

Also, around 150 women and children who survived the massacre were uploaded into trucks and paraded naked through the Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, where Jewish residents mocked, insulted and attacked them, some even took photographs, after which some were returned to the village and executed, others “dumped” in Jerusalem. During the battle and the massacre, some residents of Deir Yassin managed to escape from the western entrance of the village and ran to nearby Ein Karim. There, they asked the stationed Arab soldiers to help Deir Yassin, but the soldiers declined saying that they had orders not to interfere.

Then there’s Lydda. I particularly like this story from May 2003 by an irate airline passenger: “This morning on a flight from Rome to Tel Aviv, after landing the pilot announced in the microphone: ‘Welcome to Palestine’. I think this is the most disgusting thing for a pilot to say.”

It led to a long and acrimonious argument, with many demanding dire punishment for the Alitalia pilot.

But he made a valid point.

Ben Gurion airport, which serves Tel Aviv, was formerly Lydda airport. Lydda, a major town in its own right during the British mandate, was designated Palestinian in the 1947 UN Partition. In July 1948 Israeli terrorist troops seized Lydda, shot up the town and drove out the population. In this report by Donald Neff we’re told how, as part of the ethnic cleansing, the Israelis massacred 426 men, women and children.  One hundred and seventy-six of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque. Of all the blood-baths, they say this was the biggest. See also here for lurid details. Here’s an extract…

Out of the 19,000 people who used to call Lydda home, only 1,052 were allowed to stay.

Yitzhak Rabin, the Nobel [Peace] Prize winner, wrote in his diary soon after Lydda’s and Ramla’s occupation: “After attacking Lydda, Ben-Gurion would repeat the question: What is to be done with the population? waving his hand in a gesture which said: Drive them out!… (Soldier of Peace, pp. 140-141)

The remainder were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat, leaving a trail of bodies – men, women and children – along the way. The cruelty, on top of being robbed of everything, was horrific.

The residents of Lydda were promised that if they congregated in mosques and churches they would be safe. On July 12, a brief firefight broke out in Lydda between Israeli soldiers and a Jordanian reconnaissance team in which two Israelis were killed. In retaliation, the Israeli commander issued orders to shoot anyone on the streets. Israeli soldiers turned their wrath at those cowering in mosques and churches, killing scores of them in Dahmash mosque alone. Palestinians venturing from their homes were also shot and killed. At least 250 Lyddans were killed and many others wounded.

That same day, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion ordered all the Palestinians expelled. The order said: “The residents of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age.” It was signed by Lieutenant-Colonel Yitzhak Rabin, operations chief of the Lydda-Ramleh attack and later Israel’s military chief of staff and its prime minister in 1974-77 and again today since 1992. A similar order was issued about Ramleh.

The next day the massive forced exodus of the Palestinians began. The Ramlehans were luckier than their neighbors from Lydda. Most of the Ramleh expellees were driven into exile in buses and trucks. The Lyddans were forced to walk.

The exodus was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees.

The commander of Jordan’s Arab Legion, John Bagot Glubb Pasha, reported: “Perhaps 30,000 people or more, almost entirely women and children, snatched up what they could and fled from their homes across the open fields… It was a blazing day in July in the coastal plains – the temperature about 100 degrees in the shade. It was 10 miles across open hilly country… to the nearest Arab village of Beit Sira. Nobody will ever know how many children died.

Israeli historian Benny Morris reported:

All the Israelis who witnessed the events agreed that the exodus, under a hot July sun, was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees, especially from Lydda. Some were stripped by soldiers of their valuables as they left town or at checkpoints along the way… Nimr Khatib put the death toll among the Lydda refugees during the trek eastward at 335; Arab Legion commander John Glubb Pasha more carefully wrote that “nobody will ever know how many children died”.

The attack on Lydda was led by Israel’s great “hero” Moshe Dayan, who was later to become defence minister and foreign minister, and witnessed by two American news correspondents. One recorded that “practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.” The other wrote that he saw “the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge”.

The murder spree was followed by systematic looting. Israeli troops carried away 1,800 truck loads of Palestinian property. Jewish immigrants then flooded in and Lydda was given a Hebrew name, Lod.

Let’s wipe ‘em off the map

So, Israel has no real right to Lydda/Lod/Ben Gurion airport – it was stolen in a terror raid, as was another town we hear so much about – Sderot.

That’s where, say Israel’s propagandists, Hamas rockets have been “raining down”. It’s a whinge that forms the main plank of their efforts to justify the bloodshed Israel has inflicted on the people of Gaza. They use it ad nauseam to brainwash the media and their own people. Their pimps and stooges, returning to these shores after indoctrination, repeat it here. They studiously count and broadcast the number of erratic, garden shed Qassam rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, without ever admitting to the huge number of missiles, bombs and shells that Israel’s high-tech military fires into the tight-packed humanity of Gaza with much more murderous effect.

Those sympathetic to Israel should know that Sderot has no business being where it is. It’s built on the lands of a Palestinian village called Najd, which was ethnically cleansed by Jewish terrorists in May 1948, just before Israel was declared a state and at the fag-end of Britain’s watch as the mandated government, when kit was packing up to leave.  The 600-plus villagers were forced to flee for their lives. This and many other atrocities were committed while no-one was looking.

Palestinian Arabs owned over 90 per cent of the land in Najd. According to UN Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights they have a right to return home. But as we have come to expect, Israel refuses to recognise the rights of others and will not allow them back. Anyway, what is there for them to return to? The 82 homes in Najd were bulldozed as part of Israel’s wipe-‘em-off-the-map policy.

Najd was one of 418 Palestinian villages and towns ethnically cleansed and erased by Zionist Jews. Its inhabitants presumably became refugees in nearby Gaza and their families are probably still living in the miserable camps there. The irony is that some of them could have been manning the rocket launchers.

When Barack Obama visited Sderot he spouted the well-worn mantra backing Israel’s right to protect its citizens from rocket attacks. “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.” Yes, well said, Obama. But let’s hope you wouldn’t be so stupid or arrogant as to settle your family on land stolen from your neighbour at gun-point

After Israel’s atrocities normal poodle service was resumed by the West

Fast-forward to 2009 and the aftermath of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. When the 22-day blitzkrieg was over, nearly 1,400 Palestinians had been slaughtered of whom four-fifths were civilians and 350 children, and over 5,000 wounded.

Israel had destroyed or damaged 58,000 homes, 280 schools, 1,500 factories, water and sewage installations and 80 per cent of agricultural crops. The cost to Gaza’s civilian infrastructure was estimated at $660 to 900 million while the total economic cost was put at $3 to 3.5 billion.

It was really a non-war, said Norman Finkelstein in his book This Time We Went Too Far, and testimonies of Israeli soldiers included remarks like: “There was nothing there… nothing moved”; “No real resistance”; “Everyone was disappointed about not engaging anyone”.

Towards the end of the invasion Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said: “Hamas now understands that when you fire on Israel’s citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a very good thing.” She later waxed proud of how Israel had “demonstrated real hooliganism” and said she would happily repeat her decisions because they were meant to restore Israel’s deterrence and had done so.

And after that murderous binge in which Gaza has been reduced to rubble and its civilian population devastated, what did the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers do?

They sat down to dinner in Brussels with Livni.

This must have come as a slap in the face for the millions of justice-loving EU citizens who were expecting to see Livni arrested for crimes against humanity the minute she set foot outside Israel.

But no. All was forgiven. Normal poodle service was resumed. Israel’s admirers in Europe queued up to pay with our tax money for the humanitarian and economic wreckage, and to offer Israel the services of EU member states in helping to turn the screw yet again on the people Israel had terrorised, abused and dispossessed for 60 years.

Never mind that the EU had spent billions over the years on infrastructure projects in Gaza, only to see them wantonly smashed by Israel’s military. The EU was especially eager to help with stopping the “smuggling” of arms to the Palestinians, who by then were crushed and stripped of everything amid the ruins of their homes, their wrecked utilities, their shattered hospitals and schools, and faced with a public health disaster. That’s what happens when people have only AK47s, RPGs and ineffective rockets to fend off a ruthless occupying force bristling with all the armour and high-tech weaponry of modern warfare.

And still the illegal military occupation goes on along with indiscriminate killing of civilians, abductions, imprisonment and even torture of children, confiscation and destruction of property and livelihoods, restriction of movement and interference in ever aspect of Palestinian life. Israel is branded by an increasing number of organisations as an apartheid state practising its vile racist policies on the “inferior” Muslim and Christian residents of the Holy Land.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that a people under illegal occupation and siege are entitled in international law to take up arms against their oppressor. Israel’s relentless assaults to annihilate Gaza’s civil society was unlawful and a war crime then, and is today. Who are we to deny them their right of self-defence – and justice?

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