Israel's Onslaught: One of Its Bloodiest Attacks on Palestinians in 60 Years
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MB: Well, let me explain one very specific point. Israel is very proud, with the complicity of some Arab regimes and some of the people in the Palestinian Authority, about what's going on. But I want to remind you that what is happening in Gaza and in the West Bank is nothing but also a slaughter of democracy. We have, as Palestinians -- we, the civil society in Palestine, we, the Palestinian democratic forces, jointly with many others -- managed to have the best democratic experience ever in the Arab world. Everybody knows that, and President Carter reported it when we had the last elections. And I think this complicity of some certain Arab sides are specifically because they don't want this democracy to happen. They don't want this democracy to survive. And if Israel is very proud to be in alliance with dictatorships, then that reveals how democratic Israel itself is.
Israel has been claiming that it's the only democracy and so on, but why is it slaughtering Palestinian democracy? They did that in 1976, when we had elections for the first time for our municipalities, and within one year, because they didn't like the elected people, they either bombarded them or deported them or arrested them. And now, after 2006 elections, they are putting 45 members of our parliament in jail. One of the leaders, one of the members of parliament, is not Hamas. His name is Ahmed Saadat. He's from the left, from the secular democratic left. He was just sentenced to 30 years in jail, just because he is the secretary-general of a Palestinian organization. It's amazing how the world is silent about this slaughter of democracy. And if Israel is happy with being in alliance with some dictator, then it is the one that is losing.
The main question here, that I want to come back to some myths that Israel is spreading. They keep stressing that they are attacking Hamas. This is not on Hamas; this is on the whole Palestinian population. They claim that they ended occupation in Gaza. This is not true. They never ended occupation in Gaza. They continue to occupy Gaza. Now they're changing the form of occupation again, and they're threatening to complete the invasion again and destroying people's lives. Third, they claim that it was the Palestinians who broke the ceasefire. This is false. This is incorrect. Israel broke the ceasefire. And now the party that is refusing to have ceasefire is Barak, the defense minister of Israel, and he's the one who is refusing to allow ceasefire to happen again.
At the same time, I must say that Israel is not only attacking the Gaza Strip. Practically, Israel in the West Bank has created a system that can only be described as an apartheid system, a much worse apartheid than the one that prevailed in South Africa at one point of time. Why do we have all these problems? For one very simple fact: The violence is a symptom of the disease. The disease has been there all the time, for 41 years, and it is the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. And because the Israeli government does not want to stop this occupation, that's why we keep running from one conflict into another. Please.
AG: I wanted to bring Gideon Levy back into the conversation from Tel Aviv from the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. Gideon, you write, "Blood will now flow like water. Besieged and impoverished Gaza, the city of refugees, will pay the main price. But blood will also be unnecessarily spilled on our side. In its foolishness, Hamas brought this on itself and on its people, but this does not excuse Israel's overreaction." What about -- can you elaborate on this?