– Recently around 13 small Palestinian communities were pushed out of Area C. A couple of days ago, there was a pogrom in the South Hebron hills. Settlers burned houses of Palestinians, and settlers were wearing military uniforms during this action. There are many blockades conducted by the IDF, so Palestinians are cut out and become easy targets – says Ofer Neiman, an Israeli activist against apartheid and occupation.
I have recently seen a recording posted by Hamas, showing three hostages. One of them, a woman, was shouting at Netanyahu, saying that he wanted to kill all people around and that he ought to release all Palestinian prisoners. What was the impact of that, how shall we understand its significance?
This was really shocking. Usually hostages just appeal to heads of their countries to work on having them releases. I think that she was really honest, her critique of Netanhayu was frank. Israeli media published it, but later they deleted it. I do not know why. Some people say that her family wished so, but we are not sure this is true. Of course, the government does not want us to see it.
Many Israelis think that war is more important than the hostages. But there is also a minority who shared the video on social media, saying that the government should do more to release the hostages, that is: that they should release the Palestinian prisoners. Personally I am sharing this video as well and I think this is a powerful message to stop the war.
A couple of days ago the families of hostages blocked Tel Aviv…
There were actually two demonstrations: one anti-war demonstration, and one of the families. They really try to put pressure on Netanyahu. He does not want a ceasefire and the families are not happy about it, so they may start making more noise against the government.
Only around 30% of Israeli people are backing a land invasion of Gaza. What exactly is going on in Israeli society? On one hand we see the polls, on the other we see super-racist materials on TikTok or Instagram, depictig people dancing and chanting about Gaza not having water, electricity and food. Then we have families of hostages and liberal voices against the war…
The majority of Israeli supports bombing. The question is the ground operation on a big scale. Here, possibly, there is no majority support for a massive invasion.
It shows us that Israel is stuck here. The future is uncertain. We do not know where this war, or as I call it, genocide, will lead us, the citizens of Israel. A majority is giving the government an easy time. They will not protest against the war, even if they say they are against occupying Gaza. Most of them are afraid of massive operations, they think that this might not work. Even the government and the army are not confident. But there is a small minority that is opposed to the war.
Ground operation is one issue. Another thing is the plan for the so-called second Nakba.
Yes, the Sinai operation. Right now I am actually translating the whole document into English.
The plan to ‘transfer’ the Palestinians of Gaza to Sinai shows us how stuck Israel is. I have no doubt that this is what they, the government, actually want to do: to push the Palestinians out of Gaza. Probably even most of the Israelis would like that. But they do not have international political power for that. Even if they have military power, they do not have political power.
I repeat: this is what they want to do. Any other option is regarded as losing the war. Even if Gaza goes into the hands of Palestinian Authority and Hamas is no longer active, they will see it as a failure of the Israeli state, army and government. For even if the Palestinian Authority comes to Gaza, military resistance in Gaza would be still active, it would be active as long as there are Palestinians living there under Israeli siege, we can presume.
The second Nakba is really seen as the only option for the government and the army.
There is talk about occupying Gaza once again. This would mean actually a very strong swift from the past, because the IDF since the Lebanon Civil War has not been actually a military force per se, it has been rather a pacifying force, a colonial police with air strikes and tanks. They have not fought any major battles against comparable, well-equipped opponents.
I would say going into Lebanon in 1982 was similar to what Gaza pacification might be. Even if they manage to do it, many Isrealis will die, many Gazans will die, and then they will be stuck with Gaza, with no further plan. They are really lost here. They cannot occupy it without a high price, it will create a big problem, because if they stay, the price will go higher and higher.
There is a lot of pressure outside of Israel. Jordanians want to shred the peace agreement with Israel. The Jordanian king says that another Nakba would be another war. Egypt is saying very similar words. I do not even mention the pressure on the US officials or the EU officials imposed on them even by their own staffers, but also by the streets of Europe. Is there any talk in the media about Sisi’s and Jordanian king’s positions or about Israel’s problems with international diplomacy?
Media do not cover it, apart from Haaretz, which may cover Jordanian and Egyptian anger and the plan of the second Nakba more than other newspapers. Generally speaking, there is no major discussion. There are no headlines about Sisi or Jordan. Israelies do not have the whole picture in their minds. They do not hear about what’s been going on in Europe, the UN, or other places all over the world.
Are the Israeli even not aware of the possibility of the second front opening in the north?
We still do not know how this will develop. There might be a full front out war there, that will happen as soon as we see a ground invasion of Gaza. Right now we see small scale ground operations here and there. If they IDF goes to Gaza City, this will be a trigger for Hezbollah and Lebanese militias. And this is certainly covered by the Israeli media.
The people do not think that bombing of Aleppo and Damascus is leading into escalation?
I know that the Israeli air force is bombing Syria from time to time, and they mostly say that those are Iranian targets. If you tell someone there is a bombing of Syria, it’s just a casual situation. The narration around this is the war with Iran and that Iran wants to destroy Israel, develop nuclear bombs and so on. Most of Israelis are used to that.
And what is going on right now in the West Bank?
This is something we should monitor right now. There is an ongoing operation in which the settlers with support from the Israeli army push Palestinians out of Area C, the area that is in the hands of Israel and the IDF. 62% of the West Bank is this area, under Israeli control. Area B, under shared Israeli and Palestinian control, is around 20%. Only the remainder is the Area A under the Palestinian Authority. However, in fact, all the West Bank must be considered under Israeli control.
In the Area C, the number of Palestinians is rather small – hundreds of thousands. The idea is to kick them into Area B and C. Recently around 13 small Palestinian communities or towns were pushed out of Area C. Couple days ago there was a pogrom in the South Hebron hills. Settlers burned houses of Palestinians. They were wearing military uniforms during this action. This is very important to highlight. There are many blockades conducted by the IDF, so Palestinians are cut out and become easy targets for the settlers.
So we see a slow ethnic cleansing there?
Yes, that is, in my view, the proper name for these events.
There were already bombing in the West Bank. The IDF bombed Jenin and other “targets”. If now we see an ethnic cleansing and forced transfer from Area C to A and B, the next step would be to attack areas A and B, and have their populace expelled to Jordanian border.
Is there any power that might reverse it?
It is Western pressure. European politicians have to stand up to this. The calls for a ceasefire are the most important right now. I know that it is not very likely now that all Western governments will vouch in unisono for a ceasefire, but the pressure and opposition is growing. Western governments at some point have to fight for a ceasefire. For the moment, we see the engagement of Belgium, Ireland and Spain, but this camp will grow in numbers soon.
The second thing is Palestine solidarity campaigns. The things that they do everyday are powerful, such as Jewish activists blocking Congress. The Jews that are fighting against Israel’s occupation and apartheid, with more and more young Anti-Zionist American Jews, are the most powerful message, especially in the US. Palestinian voices must be heard in the US, but at the moment they are not heard that well. Still, I hope there will be many more actions.
In the end, we do not know where this war will lead us. We shall be ready for more atrocities to come up – and more actions against such atrocities on a worldwide level.