FACTS – Massacres and Killings
“”” According to Amnesty International, Israeli air and artillery strikes in 2006 killed some 650 Palestinian people, half of them unarmed civilians, including some 120 children.
On the other hand, Palestinian militants killed 21 Israeli civilians, including one child, half the figure of the previous year and the lowest since the intifada flared in September 2000. Rockets fired by Palestinian militants were responsible for two civilian deaths.
Israel’s powerful military operations claim to target militants, but have killed thousands of men, women and children over the years.
David Ben Gurion (First PM, 1948-1954)
* Quote: “We must expel Arabs and take their places.” (Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985)
* David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, declared an independent Jewish state on May 14, 1948. Fighting between Arab and Jewish militia groups had cost about 1,700 lives and prompted Britain’s decision to dissolve its mandate. In April 1948 Jewish forces launched a full-scale attack and by the time the Israel was born, 400,000 Palestinians had become refugees in neighboring Arab countries.
* After the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, another 400,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes in the extra territory conquered by Israel (over and above the U.N. allotment) and in the course of another year about 300,000 more left the West Bank for what is now Jordan.
* The 1948 refugees and their descendants now number four million people, many of whom still live in U.N.-supported camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Palestinians say they were driven from their homes or left them because of Jewish attacks and massacres in Arab villages.
Golda Meir (Fourth PM, 1969-1974)
* Quote: “There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.” (Sunday Times, June 15, 1969)
* Quote: “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” (News reports August 3, 1969)
* Israeli forces are said to have killed 400 Palestinians in cold blood in Khan Younis in 1956 on the eve of the Suez War. Palestinian officials said civilians were lined up in a large public square with their faces to a wall, and then Israeli soldiers opened fire on them.
Menachem Begin (Sixth PM, 1977-1983)
* Quote: “[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.” (New Statesman, June 25, 1982)
* Scores of Palestinian men, women and children were killed in the Deir Yassin village by underground Jewish militias Irgun, Lehi, and Haganah in April 1948 followed by the killing of 200 Palestinians in the village of Tantura near Haifa.
* Oversaw the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in which Israel’s Lebanese Christian allies massacred 3,000 to 3,500 Palestinians — mostly women, children, and the elderly — in the two refugee camps.
Yitzhak Shamir (Seventh PM, 1983-1984)
* Quote: “[The Palestinians] would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” (New York Times April 1, 1988).
* In 1944, the terrorist group Lehi led by Yitzhak Shamir assassinated Lord Moyne, British Minister Representative. Shamir was sought after for capital punishment, but escaped capture.
* In the 1990 Temple Mount killings, Israeli border police shot dead the 21 Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s old city after Palestinian crowds threw stones at Jewish worshippers at the Wailing Wall. The Muslims were protesting after a group of Jewish zealots was to lay a cornerstone for a new temple on the site. Palestinian officials said Israeli police used automatic weapons to gun down fleeing Palestinian civilians, doctors and other medical personnel, also injuring hundred of people.
Shimon Peres (Eighth PM, 1984-1986)
* A former prime minister, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and doyen of Israel’s left, Peres brought his dovish Labour party into Sharon’s coalition in late 2004 to ensure a parliamentary majority for the pullout plan.
* Peres, as foreign minister under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, won a reputation as Israel’s leading dove by orchestrating interim peace deals with the Palestinians in the early 1990s. Peres was once labeled by Yitzhak Rabin as the “indefatigable schemer” for his political maneuvering.
Ariel Sharon (Eleventh PM, 2001-2006)
* Quote: “Everyone there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand the territory. Everything that’s grabbed will be in our hands. Everything we don’t grab will be in their hands.” (1998)
* Quote: “Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.” (2001)
* In 1953, Ariel Sharon as the leader of Special Forces Unit 101 ordered an attack on a village called Qibya, near Jerusalem, in which 69 civilians were killed. Sharon’s act was condemned by many countries, including the U.S.
* As Defense Minister, Sharon masterminded the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in which Israel’s Lebanese Christian allies massacred 3,000 to 3,500 Palestinians — mostly women, children, and the elderly — in the two refugee camps. Sharon was forced to resign after an Israeli inquiry found him indirectly responsible for failing to foresee and prevent the killings. His political career suffered but briefly.
* In a deadly May 2004 campaign, Israel bulldozed hundreds of houses in the Gaza Strip in an effort to stamp out cross-border tunnels used by Palestinian militants to smuggle weapons from neighboring Egypt. More than 40 Palestinians were killed in the course of the week-long campaign called Operation Rainbow. The Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights said the operation’s declared goal was “not convincing,” and lamblasted “the arbitrary large-scale demolition of private houses without any convincing reason related to military necessity.”
* Sharon — a former general known as the “Bulldozer” — angered Arabs and Israeli doves by championing Jewish settlement on land taken in the 1967 Middle East war.
* Palestinians accuse then-opposition leader Sharon of provoking their uprising by his September 2000 visit to a Jerusalem shrine holy to both Muslims and Jews.
* Sharon shocked Jewish ultranationalists in 2003 by announcing he would “disengage” Israel from fighting with the Palestinians by removing all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four from the West Bank. Most Israelis backed the pullout, completed in September, but some settlers resisted. After pulling out of Gaza, he said Israel would keep much of the West Bank, drawing Palestinian charges of poor faith in peace efforts.
* Sharon quit Likud and founded the breakaway, centrist Kadima Party in 2005. He was felled by a stroke in 2006 and has remained in a coma since.
Ehud Olmert (Twelfth PM, 2006-Present)
* Quote: “As far as I’m concerned, the residents of Gaza can walk, and they will not get gasoline because they have a murderous, terrorist regime that does not allow the residents of southern Israel to live in peace.” (January 22, 2008 on the fuel blockade)
* Soon after Gaza militants in June 2006 killed two Israeli soldiers and abducted a third, Gilad Shalit, in a cross-border raid, Israel launched several incursions into the south and north of Gaza. The operations – called Autumn Clouds — left about 160 Palestinians dead, around half of them civilians, according to hospital officials.
* In Nov. 2006, Israeli troops went into Beit Hanoun, on the pretext of tackling rocket fire. During the week-long offensive, dubbed “Autumn Clouds”, Israel said it managed to destroy at least nine rocket-launching “cells”, but rocket fire continued. The offensive ended on Nov. 7, when troops pulled out. Since then Israel has shelled the town and others nearby.
* Olmert became party leader after Sharon was felled by a stroke in January 2006. Elected mayor of Jerusalem in 1993, he championed building Jewish enclaves in Arab parts of the city.
* He launched the inconclusive summer war on Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in 2006 that left heavy casualties on both sides.
* Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas re-launched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at a U.S.-backed conference in November after a seven-year hiatus and agreed to try to reach an agreement on Palestinian statehood in 2008. But he heads a fractious coalition and many doubt he can win Israeli support for the critical concessions needed to secure a deal. “”” [SOURCE : Al Arabiya ]