Israeli Defense Minister and former nightclub bouncer Avigdor Lieberman stated, on Friday, that he is directing the Israeli military to prepare for an all-out assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, which he said will be “broad” and “painful”.
After killing 42 unarmed protesters, and wounding 17,000 who were participating in non-violent protests, over the the past three and a half months, without provoking an armed response from Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza, Israeli authorities appear to be at a loss as to how to ensure that the Palestinian population continues to be perceived by the world as ‘irrational terrorists’, rather than a population living under colonial military rule, struggling for their existence.
Avigdor Lieberman, who is well-known for his threat to expel all Palestinians from inside what is now Israel, and who has frequently called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, is now the Defense Minister under the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Lieberman is also known for having beaten up a twelve year old boy in a settlement where he had been living, because the boy was bothering him.
On Friday, Lieberman appeared to blame Hamas for the escalation that Israel has been carrying out in Gaza, stating, “We are trying to be measured and responsible, but the leaders of Hamas are leading us into a situation in which there is no choice, a situation in which we will have to embark on a broad and painful military operation, not only for appearances”.
According to the Israeli paper Ha’aretz, Lieberman made the statement during a visit to the Israeli town of Sderot, which was provocatively built on stolen Palestinian land just across the border from Gaza several years ago, “Unfortunately, residents of Gaza will be among those who will have to pay the price”.
Lieberman also stated, according to the Israeli paper, “We all saw in the newspaper that because of the kites and because of the fires, we’re not going to war – although any reasonable person who sees natural woodlands burned, thousands of acres of agricultural fields burned, understands that the situation is unreasonable. We are acting with responsibility and restrain, even though the real problem is the erosion of deterrence, a change in the equation and of course the sense of security, which is no less important than security itself.”
He added that, “There are 159 dead terrorists, there are some 5,000 wounded, we damaged crucial infrastructure belonging to Hamas, including production facilities, a munitions depot, a central training facility, [and] we struck two tunnels”, saying proudly that Israel had dropped 50 tons of bombs into Gaza over the past two and a half months. But no evidence was provided to support the claim that the Palestinians killed in this period were ‘terrorists’, and multiple videos show that the vast majority of the 142 Palestinians killed (not 159 as Israel claimed) were anything other than non-violent demonstrators, medics, journalists and children.
Prior to moving to Israel from Moldova, Lieberman worked as a nightclub bouncer. When he moved into an Israeli settlement, he gained infamy when he was charged with beating up the 12-year old boy. He espoused extreme right-wing views, and became a member of the Yisrael Beitenu party. He is now chair of that party.
In 2012, a corruption case against Lieberman was dropped, and an article in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz stated, “Completing the investigation would have required judicial inquiries in different countries, but a decision was taken on the matter, to wind up the investigation instead of probing deeper.”
The Ha’aretz article quoted the investigation’s documents, which found that Lieberman had millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts linked to at least five different companies in his name. The investigation’s report also stated, “Considerable questions and queries remain in light of the evidence seemingly indicating Lieberman’s involvement in the companies and his improper connection with them. Needless to say, closing a criminal case for lack of evidence does not constitute a certificate of vindication and does not eliminate these doubts.”
The 2014 war in Gaza was devastating to the population of Gaza – over 2100 Palestinian people were killed, the vast majority of whom were unarmed civilians. 39 Israeli soldiers, and 3 Israeli civilians, were killed by Palestinians. During the month-long assault, Israeli airforce bombers devastated whole neighborhoods, wiped out entire families of dozens of members from grandparents to infants, and fired white phosphorus at schools where families had gone to seek shelter. Despite a UN Inquiry that found widespread evidence of war crimes, Israeli soldiers who participated in this massacre faced no repercussions for their actions.
Archive IMEMC video 09/02/14: Gaza City’s Devastated Al-Shuja’eyya Suburb