PACIFICA – About 700 Israelis have been arrested for protesting against the war on Gaza since the beginning of the deadly offensive, said Neve Gordon, chair of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel on Monday.
"700 Israelis have been arrested since this war began, because they protested this war. This has not made it to an international media, and it’s an act of intimidation by the state against those who protest the war," Gordon told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!.
On the number of Israeli deaths, Gordon said: "between ten and twenty people, Israelis, have died from rockets in the eight years that rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel. During the same amount of time, 4,000 Israelis have died from car accidents."
But Israel still used that as an excuse to bomb Gaza.
"From these twenty people, we’re allowed to enter into the Gaza Strip and bomb them from the air into their cage and kill 275 children," said Gordon, who is also the author of the book Israel’s Occupation.
Gordon criticized Israel's continuous violations of international law.
"Disproportionality is a term from international law. Israel has been defying international law and international agreements and international decisions from 1967, or probably from before. One of these decisions is that Israel must return these (Palestinian) territories. And by maintaining and holding onto these territories through violent means," said Gordon.
Although Gordon opposes Gaza rocket fire, he explained that the Palestinians are trying to defend themselves.
"The right to self-defense is a right to self-defense from violence. We have to understand that the occupation itself is violence. It’s an act of violence. Putting people in a prison, in a prison of one million and a half million people and keeping them there for years on end without basic foodstuff, without allowing them to enter and exit when they will, is an act of violence. Without electricity, without clean water, it’s all an act of violence. And these people are resisting. I am against the way they’re resisting, but we have to look at their violence versus our violence," said Gordon.
"Gaza is still under occupation, because Israel controls all of its borders, and the West Bank is under occupation, and East Jerusalem is under occupation. And the act—the first, the initial, the primordial act of violence is the occupation. The rockets are a reaction to that act of violence. And so, we have to keep in mind that within—it’s not between a state and another state. It’s been between an occupier and an occupied," he noted.
On the media war, Gordon noted: "Israel is dealing with a propaganda war. Israel is the one that disseminated a video of Hamas shooting rockets from a school, a video that’s almost two years old, claiming that the video was taken a day or two earlier. So Israel is in a propaganda war."
Gordon noted that "although Hamas did launch an incredible amount of rockets at the end of the ceasefire," it was Israel which broke the ceasefire on November 4th "when it attacked in the Gaza Strip."
"Israel actually is a first actor that broke the ceasefire," noted Gordon.
Gordon also accused Israel of committing acts of terrorism.
"Yes, the Hamas is fighting out from a civilian population, but Israel has the choice whether it’s going to bomb the civilian population or not, and it is intentionally deciding to bomb the civilian population. So in terms of intentionality in bombing areas where there are civilians, Israel is acting like a state terrorist. So, if your definition of terrorism doesn’t take into account the identity of the actor—and state actors can also be terrorists—then when you bomb a school and when you bomb a university and when you bomb a neighborhood and you’re killing much more civilians than militants, then you’re doing something that is an act of terror," he explained.
Gordon cited two reasons behind Israel's offensive against Gaza.
"I think the actual reasons have to do—the two major reasons—with rebuilding the reputation of the Israeli military after its humiliation in 2006 in Lebanon and the upcoming Israeli elections."
But the Israeli author believes that there is a way to solve the conflict.
"Hamas is the elected government of the Palestinian people. We don’t need to like them. I don’t like them. But they are the elected government, and we need to sit down and talk with them and not bomb them," he noted.
"We have to come out and say we are willing to talk with our enemies, even with people that say that they do not believe in the existence of Israel. The PLO said that they do not believe in the existence of Israel for many years. And ultimately, we sat down and talked with them, and they are now considered our Palestinian partner. I believe that if there is a pragmatic side, a strong pragmatic wing in Hamas, that if we start negotiation with them, over the years these people will also agree to the existence of Israel and be willing to live side by side with us," he added.
"If we do not talk with them, if we continue this cycle of violence, ultimately Israel will be destroyed, because ultimately, the technological edge that we have over our neighbors will not be meaningful. So we have to change our approach. We have to be pro—by changing our approach, we’re actually pro-Israeli. We say we want to see Israel a hundred years from now. And the only way we’ll see Israel exist a hundred years from now is if Israel makes peace with Syria, with Lebanon and with the Palestinian people," Gordon explained.