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Look who's being pushed to the sea now

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Message Bahija Reghai

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How can Israel be said to kill Palestinian civilians? Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir herself affirmed in an interview:

"There were no such thing as Palestinians.... 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." (Richard Cavendish remembers Israel's own Iron Lady)

Palestinians do certainly exist, as most people know, and remain an inconvenient stumbling block to those who seek to implement the Zionist dream. In the words of Yosef Weitz, former Director of the Lands and Afforestation Department of the Jewish National Fund:

"...there is no room for two peoples in this country. If the Arabs leave it, that will satisfy us ... There is no other way but to remove them all; there must not be a single village left, or a single clan ..." (Yosef Weitz, Diary and Letters to My Sons, 1965

Palestinians, young and old, are indeed being killed as we saw daily on our screens, or as a Gazan said, "we were dying slowly. Now we are dying instantly because of the F-16s and all the Israeli and American technology."

From Stateless Palestinian refugees, 1948

The removal of Palestinians from both Jewish and Arab areas, as defined by UN Partition Resolution 181 of November 1947, was begun before the creation of Israel, by Jewish paramilitary groups, some listed as terrorist by the UK government, such as the Irgun, the Lehi, the Haganah and the Palmach.

Qisarya was the first village to be expelled on 15 February 1948, Sa'sa that same night, Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, Tiberias on April 19, 1948, Haifa on April 21, 1948, Acre and Baysan, on May 6, 1948, Safad on May 10, 1948 and more. The terror continued after Israel declared its independence on May 15, 1948, to include, amongst others, Dawaymeh on October 28, 1948, where, according to Israeli archives quoted by Ilan Pappe:

" The Jewish troops who took part in the massacre also reported horrific scenes: babies whose skulls were cracked open, women raped or burned alive in houses, and men stabbed to death." (Review of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Mostafa Omar

By the spring of 1949, only about 20% of the original Palestinian population were left. The new state controlled about 77% percent of the land, or 45% more than allocated in the partition plan. Approximately 750,000 Palestinians had become refugees. Israel's founding fathers had succeeded in securing a Jewish state with a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.

Eight years later, Israel attacked Egypt. This misguided adventure didn't end as Israel planned, and it was forced to withdraw from the Sinai, the Gaza Strip and the Gulf of Aqaba. Expansionist Ben-Gurion concluded then there was "no point in expanding the borders of the state of Israel" and that there would be no further "preventive wars" in his time (What turned Ben-Gurion from a hawk into a dove?)

However, the expansionist dream lived on in his successors and the 1967 war was another of choice for Israel, as Menachem Begin confirmed:

"In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him." (Address by Prime Minister Begin at the National Defense College, August 8, 1982

According to General Mordechai Hod, then Commander of the Israeli Air Force, the Six-Day war had been meticulously prepared: "Sixteen years of planning had gone into those initial eighty minutes. We lived with the plan, we slept on the plan, we ate the plan. Constantly we perfected it."

At the end of the war, Israeli forces occupied the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank including Arab East Jerusalem (Jordanian territory) and the Syrian Golan Heights, territories which Israel still controls, except for the Sinai given back to Egypt under a peace agreement.

Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom are 1948 and 1967 refugees (some made refugees twice), now find themselves herded into an ever-shrinking territory. Israel's self-declared no-man's-land takes up half of Gaza's width (being roughly 6 km in its middle area), with the result that 1.7 M people are crammed into a band of about 3 km by 8 km with nowhere else to go but into the sea.

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Bahija Reghai is a Canadian Human Rights activist and a former president of the National COuncil on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR).
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