2011-01-27 Israel and ethnic cleansing

Earlier this week, Israel was accused of ethnic cleansing of Israeli Arabs based on material in the Palestine Papers (summarized here and here). In the Palestine Papers, documents show Israeli negotiators wanting to cut out Arab occupied parts of Israel and give them to Palestine as they were considered “Palestinian” parts of Israel. Other documents discuss the Palestinian diaspora and Israel’s refusal and Palestine’s inability to accept them as citizens. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice suggested they should be transported to Chile and Argentina.

Yesterday, Nurit Kedar aired a report on Channel 4 News telling of a different kind of ethnic cleansing.

In a report first aired on Channel 4 News on Wednesday, 24-year-old tank commander Ohad remembers being told the night before the operation that the entry into Gaza was to be “disproportionate”.

Once into Gaza, he says his orders were unambiguous: “We needed to cleanse the neighbourhoods, the buildings, the area. It sounds really terrible to say “cleanse”, but those were the orders….I don’t want to make a mistake with the words.”

The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] has said its operational orders during the war emphasised “proportionality” and “humanity”.

The importance of minimising harm to civilians was made clear to soldiers, the IDF said at the time. By the end of the 22 day long operation some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed and large areas of Gaza razed. Ten Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians also died.

Since airing the report, the film maker has received death threats.

“I have had phone calls saying ‘you should be hanged’ and calling me a traitor.

“People have sent me messages calling for me to be expelled from Israel, saying I am a traitor to my mother and father.”

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