03 February 2009

Israeli war criminal flees London

Religious extremist settler and war criminal Col. (res.) Geva Rapp has fled the UK with his tail between his legs like the true 'hero' he is. The Jerusalem Post: "An Israeli colonel involved in Operation Cast Lead returned to Israel in haste on Friday, fearing arrest on charges of war crimes during a visit to the UK. "

This is the man who lead a part of the child-killing Israeli reserve rabble in the recent massacres in Gaza or as Haaretz described it "
the mass killing of innocent people".

He came to London as part of the Israeli government's propaganda offensive throughtout the whole world, to speak to
the Jewish London Student Centre, almost certainly to prime them for their 'hasbara' duties, "to explain Israel's position and refute media representations of the hostilities".

Thanks to the actions of about 100 people from the Stop The War Coalition, his talk was called off. (Note by the way the misleading Standard description of him as 'retired' - he's actually in the reserve. Also note the description by Gen. Yigael Yadin, a former chief of staff of the Israel Occupation Forces (IOF): "The civilian is a soldier on 11 months' annual leave.")

We now know that the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) have been infiltrated by the radical fundamentalists in the settler movement. And they have infiltrated with the full connivance of the Israeli state. The problem is these settlers are a law unto themselves.

Dr. Yagil Levy, a political sociologist at the Open University in Israel, says that about 15% of the soldiers in fighting units are national-religious, as are 50% of the low- and middle-ranking officers in some regiments. He explains that after the Lebanon war, the liberal, upper-middle-class Ashkenazi young, who used to form the majority of soldiers in the fighting units, lost interest in the army and therefore enlisted in far lower numbers. The national-religious young took their place. He says that the army command has found them to be the most loyal and reliable soldiers, especially in assignments in occupied territories.

He explains:

"Relations between the army, the settlers and the Palestinians, as they are reflected in the events of recent months, clearly illustrate...the disintegration of the army when it comes to its control over forces".

He continues.

"The bias of the army is naturally in favor of the settlers, over the Palestinians. This bias was strengthened by the deployment of the military force in three circles. The first circle is regional defense, reserve units, made up of settlers, that participate in the settlements' daily defense. In this context, the army entrusted the settlers with weapons as reserve soldiers, and the result was the growth of armed militias in the territories. These settlers constitute a human shield against the majority Arab population, a service they were to provide in exchange for generous subsidies from the state, channeled to the settlements and to their armed residents. The army has limited control over the activity of these militias, under whose aegis settlers harm Palestinians, seize control of land, and the like.

The second circle is composed of the six policing battalions that regularly serve in the territories and are united in the framework of the Kfir Brigade. The regular deployment of a military force within a civilian community that it is supposed to protect, blurs the boundaries between the settlers and the soldiers. The blurring is physical, since many settlers serve in these units as well, some of the units are deployed in the settlements themselves, settlements have been built on army bases, etc. But it is also cultural, insofar as the commanders try to maintain proper relations with the settlers.

In addition, a significant percentage of the soldiers in the policing battalions are graduates of yeshivas whose ideological bias is clear, and who are subject to external rabbinical influence, while half the battalion commanders of the Kfir Brigade are Orthodox.

The third circle is that of other units, reservists and regular army, who reinforce the activity in the territories. About half of the graduates of the officers training school Bahad 1 are religious; the graduates of the Orthodox mekhinot (pre-army programs combining study and military preparation) and the hesder yeshivas (combining study and military service) constitute over 10 percent of the army's combat force; the settlers constitute about 5 percent of combat soldiers (some overlapping the previous statistic), 1.3 times their proportion of the general population. A large percentage of these groups man the infantry brigades, which occasionally carry out activity in the territories. This percentage has grown as the "motivation crisis" among the established secular population has increased. What motivates the young religious men to enlist is not the need to protect the Palestinian olive pickers, or the desire to evacuate the Federman farm, but the desire to "protect our home.

The 2005 report prepared by Talia Sasson about the illegal outposts presented a picture of dual networks - a formal and an informal one - when it comes to the political-military control of the settlement project. Commenting on the fact that the army refrains from enforcing the law, the report said: "'The spirit of the commander ... means that IDF soldiers must not examine the deeds of the settlers through the eyes of the law, since the settlers are carrying out a Zionist act in building the outposts, although it is illegal."

The unavoidable conclusion is that the military command is losing control over its forces in the West Bank. Whether the army and the politicians responsible for it admit it or not, a central consideration in refraining from evacuating illegal settlements is the simple understanding that the army lacks any real ability to carry out the evacuation without encountering massive refusal on the part of recruits, on whom, according to the army, it is dependent for manning its high-quality manpower reserves in a future war.

Let Col. Rapp be under no illusions. He is a war criminal and if he sets foot in Europe he will be arrested.

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