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"Peace" with Violence or Transfer

US report: The Palestinians have to choose between transfer and thousands dead or "peace" with no human rights but with violence.

Shraga Elam (Shraga Elam is an Israeli investigative journalist based in Zurich. He published recently a highly praised book in German on the collaboration of the Zionist leadership with the Nazis).

Between the Lines (Magazine), Second Issue, 1st week of December 2000

Everybody with Internet access may have a look at the guidelines of the Israeli "Defense" Force (IDF) for its present operation against the Palestinians. According to this publication, further escalations will be followed by transfer of Palestinians from "sensitive areas" and the "Arrest [of] Palestinian Authority officials and imposition of a new military administration." The ensuing house-to-house battles would kill thousands of Palestinians, both armed and civilian. The IDF must calculate in the framework of this operation the death of hundreds of Israeli soldiers and with thousands more wounded on both sides. The only chance to avert this danger, according to this publication, is if the PA will suppress the Al Aqsa Intifada ruthlessly and effectively and with no exaggerated amount of respect to human rights.

This detailed program under the name "Field of Thorns" was published in the framework of a pro-Israeli report written by Anthony H. Cordesman, the Middle East 'expert' at the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington - an institute with strong affiliations to the CIA.(1)

It is quite unusual for a military force to publish its plans and even allow its enemy, in this case the Palestinian Authority, to read a copy, in the midst of the fighting. This fact however does not reduce the trustworthyness of the information, as many parts of the measures mentioned in this report have been already implemented quite accurately. The publication of the plan seems to be part of US-Israeli pressure on the PA to brutally suppress the Intifada on its own. "They [the PA] must halt civil violence even if this sometimes means using excessive force by the standards of Western police forces."(2)

"The issue", the report states, "is not whether extreme security measures will sometimes be used, or whether they are sometimes necessary. The issue is rather how many such acts occur, how well-focused they are on those who directly commit terrorism, and how justified they are in terms of their relative cost- benefits.(3)

Operation "Field of Thorns"

From the start of the Oslo accords, the IDF planned for the possibility that it will reoccupy the territories that had already been given to the PA. The "Field of Thorns" was developed and tested through simulations and rehearsals in 1996. During the negotiations in Camp David in July 2000, the IDF changed its training plans from a policing security operation to a full-scale military mission in which all units receive special combat anti- riot training. The code name of this operation was "Magic Tune", which prepared for a low-intensity conflict scenario. The preparations for the worst case scenario were code named "Distant World". "This foresees the forceful capture of Palestinian territory by Israeli forces and the creation of a military administration, should the situation warrant such a move."(4)

In 1997, the Jerusalem Report wrote about Operation Field of Thorns: "It is the scenario for a bloodbath: Israeli tanks roll into Palestinian cities, and are confronted by youths armed with stones, Molotov cocktails and guns. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian police fight it out in house-to-house battles; Israeli attack helicopters make pinpoint strikes on strategic Palestinian targets. Casualties are immense."(5) According to the simulations and rehearsals of the IDF, the reoccupying of Palestinian areas will take between a few days to 24 days. This depends on the Israeli tactic. "If, for instance, you have a building with 20 Palestinians who are shooting at you," says Zvi Shtauber, head of the IDF's strategic planning division from 1992-95, "is it worth charging them or waiting till they get tired and hungry?" The highly esteemed Jane's Intelligence Review (1.3.1997) wrote that from the Israeli point of view, "The military cost of reoccupation is directly proportionate to the degree the Israelis restrain their fire: the greater the restraint, the higher the IDF casualty list. Reoccupation could ultimately cost 200-2,000 Israeli military fatalities."(6) In this scenario there is no estimation of Palestinian casualties.

As many of the measures of Operation Field of Thorns have already been executed, there is a high probability that in case of an additional escalation, Israel will use further steps out of the same list (see Box). The transfer of Palestinians from certain areas, like Beit Jala should therefore be considered as a concrete danger. According to the Sunday Times (26.11.2000), Israeli tank and infantry units are preparing themselves for reoccupying Palestinian territories. Barak received authorization from the government already on the November 23rd to take the "necessary military decisions" without any further consultation with the cabinet. Of course all the build up and their publication constitutes a cardinal part of the pressure on Arafat. It does not however mean that Barak is just bluffing. He is cynical and ruthless enough to execute this murderous plan as a very promising part of his election campaign. Besides he is under constant pressure from the IDF to do so as well. As it is hard to imagine that the Israeli Prime Minister would dare to take such steps without US consent, there are few chances that an effective official international protective force would be allowed to be stationed in the Palestinian territories in due time. Therefore the immediate real danger for Palestinians should not be underestimated and the building of international peace brigades should be established urgently. The experiences made by the group around the brave Israeli Neta Golan who lived for a number of weeks in the village of Harres near Nablus in the West Bank to protect the villagers from settler's attack shows that such grassroots efforts might be useful.

CSIS report

Besides the frightening scenarios and plan of Field of Thorns, Cordesman's highly qualified analysis is marked by honesty and frankness. Without emotion, he, as a well-informed and well- connected Israel supporter, admits that the Oslo accords were inherently incapable to do justice to the Palestinians and that this situation would continue for the years to come. "Even if a peace settlement can now be reached...., it will still leave major problems and the near certain threat of at least low-level continuing violence. Any compromise acceptable to both sides must leave Jerusalem and the West Bank deeply divided. Much of the West Bank would remain under Israeli control and at least the greater Jerusalem area would remain open for Israeli settlement. No peace can meet the economic and political expectations of the younger Palestinians for years to come." (7) Because Israel is not ready to make any real concessions, or as Cordesmans says "cannot" make them, there are just two alternatives; either there must be "peace with violence" or war.

"Peace" with violence means according to the US expert, a Palestinian self-repressing system remote-controlled by the CIA and its Israeli colleagues. The PA has to control the "extremists" and "terrorists" because the potential of violence as an integral part of this unjust "solution" will exits for a long period of time.

Cordesman is well aware of the fact that the Oslo Accords brought with them, among other injustices, an additional impoverishment to the already poor majority of the Palestinians. "Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined 36% between 1992 and 1996 (...) The CIA estimates that this downturn in economic activity led to a nearly two year decrease in life expectancy and a significant increase in child mortality between 1997 and 2000.(8)

Still, instead of looking for ways to improve the desperate economical situation, Cordesman suggests to Israel to continue the use of the very effective weapons of physical containment and economic warfare, as they cause less 'bad media' than the use of firearms.

At the same time he writes, "physical containment and economic warfare create further problems. Containment means isolating Palestinians and crippling the economy of any area facing containment. Given the already weak economies in Gaza and the West Bank, this has an immediate and brutal human impact and affects all involved, not simply those who are violent. (9)..But the terrible weapon of economical war, which essentially is a slow form of killing, has proven itself according to Cordesman very effective in fighting Hamas and Islamic Jihad. These organizations lost a considerable amount of popular support because of the wide loss of jobs and trade following their military activities (he uses the word terror) against Israel.

"Peace and Security as the Natural Enemies of Human Rights". This is a name of a chapter in Cordesman work. "Israeli pressure and Palestinian politics led the Palestinian Authority security forces to emphasize security over human rights long before the crisis that began in September 2000, although they often did so to maintain the present ruling elite rather than to preserve the peace process. [...] Critics of Palestinian Authority security forces must understand that such problems will remain the rule, not the exception. There will be no future peace, or stable peace process, if the Palestinian security forces do not act ruthlessly and effectively. [...] If they do not, the net cost to both peace and the human rights of most Palestinians will be devastating. Israeli and American leaders have focused on the very issue of terrorism as a means of evaluating the Palestinian Authority's commitment to the peace process."(10)

This policy has been successful up unto September and should now be resumed, according to the US influential expert with his far reaching anti-democratic recommendations: "Israeli security forces must operate against extremist and terrorist forces that have learned to cloak their activities under "respectable" political cover, to deliberately manipulate the rhetoric of human rights and democracy, to manipulate human rights groups and the media, and to exploit every weakness in the law and legal procedures.(11)

If there was hope that the present Intifada will improve the Palestinian chances for a just solution, for more respect of their legitimate rights, the CSIS-Report puts them solely before a terrible choice: either "Peace" with violence or the continuation and escalation of Operation "Field of Thorns."


* Operational Plan of Field of Thorns

* Massive reinforcement of IDF troops at points of friction.

* Use of other forces to secure settlements, key roads, and terrain points.

* Use of helicopter gunships and snipers to provide mobility and suppressive fire.

* Use of extensive small arms, artillery, and tank fire to suppress sniping, rock throwing and demonstrations.

* Bombing, artillery strikes, and helicopter strikes on high value Palestinian targets and punish Palestinian elements for attacks.

* Search and seizure interventions and raids into Palestinian areas in the Gaza and West Bank to break up organized resistance and capture or kill key leaders.

* Selective destruction of high value Palestinian facilities and clearing of strong points and fields of fire near Palestinian urban areas.

* Mobilization and deployment of armored and other land forces in the face of a massive Palestinian rising.

^ Use of armor and artillery to isolate major Palestinian population areas, and to seal off Palestinian areas, including many areas of Zone A.

^ Introduction of a simultaneous economic blockade with selective cuts offs of financial transactions, labor movements, and food/fuel shipments.

^ Use of Israeli control of water, power, communications, and road access to limit the size and endurance of Palestinian action.

^ Regulation and control of media access and conduct a major information campaign to influence local and world opinion.

^ Use of military forces trained in urban warfare to penetrate into cities if necessary - most probably in cases where there are Jewish enclaves like Hebron.

& Carrying out "temporary" withdrawal of Israeli settlers from exposed and low value isolated settlements like Hebron.

& Arrest PA officials and imposition of a new military administration.

& Forced evacuations of Palestinian from "sensitive areas."

* = already practiced  ^ = partly practiced  & = not applied

  1. Anthony H. Cordesman, Peace and War: Israel versus the Palestinians A Second Intifada? - A Rough Working Draft, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), latest version Novemeber 9, 2000,
  2. CSIS-report p. 106
  3. CSIS-Report p. 115
  4. David Eshel (a retired career officer in the IDF): IDF PREPARES FOR PALESTINIAN CLASHES, JANE'S INTELLIGENCE REVIEW 08/2000
  5. PETER HIRSCHBERG: WAR GAMES, Jerusalem Report, September 4, 1997
  7. CSIS-Report p.9
  8. CSIS-Report p. 54
  9. CSIS-Report p. 14
  10. CSIS-Report p. 106
  11. CSIS-Report p.107
  12. CSIS-report p. 90-91.

Washington think tank report calls for the use of "excessive force" and torture against Palestinians

By Kate Randall, 5 December 2000

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has published a report entitled "Peace and War: Israel versus the Palestinians—A Second Intifada" written by Anthony H. Cordesman. The document is remarkable in its open recommendation of the use of torture and repression against the Palestinian population in the current Middle East crisis.

CSIS is a Washington-based think tank with close ties to prominent Congressional leaders. Anthony Cordesman co-directs CSIS's Middle East task force, which includes, among others, Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman and Republican Senator John McCain. He has also been a prominent military analyst for ABC News for the past 10 years.

The CSIS report on the Middle East has reportedly been widely circulated among senior US, Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, according to the London Independent. It advocates the PA deal brutally with such Palestinian groups as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, arguing that "There will be no future peace, or stable peace process, if the Palestinian security forces do not act ruthlessly and effectively."

Under the subheading "The Cost-Effectiveness of Security Measures," Cordesman writes: "Every counter-terrorist force that has ever succeeded has had to act decisively and sometimes violently. Effective counter-terrorism relies on interrogation methods that border on psychological and/or physical torture, arrests and detentions that are ‘arbitrary' by the standards of civil law, break-ins and intelligence operations that violate the normal rights of privacy, levels of violence in making arrests that are unacceptable in civil cases, and measures that involve the innocent (or at least not provably directly guilty) in arrests and penalties."

The report says that the PA "must react very quickly and decisively in dealing with terrorism and violence if they are to preserve the momentum of Israeli withdrawal, the expansion of Palestinian control, and the peace process," and that "They must be able to halt terrorist and paramilitary action by Hamas and Islamic Jihad even if this means interrogations, detentions, and trials that are too rapid and lack due process."

The report also advocates and condones the use of similar methods by Israeli security forces. According to Cordesman, the Israeli forces "often have had to choose between a strict interpretation of the law and effectiveness" which "is the price of both maintaining security and Israeli political support for a peace process."

The report asserts that it is "common knowledge that Israeli intelligence has assassinated terrorist leaders," and goes on to provide a long list of probable assassinations carried out by Israeli forces from 1973 through 1996. These victims include prominent leaders of the PLO, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah and other groups.

The CSIS report has been condemned by Amnesty International USA, which says that it "risks legitimizing torture." Amnesty spokesman Marty Rosenberg stated that it amounts to a "‘green light' for human rights violations" in the area. "No one associated with CSIS should allow these practices to receive praise or evade condemnation," Rosenberg commented.

The Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting group (FAIR) has criticized the report and ABC News' close association with the report's author, Anthony Cordesman. ABC has so far had no comment about their relationship with Cordesman, who frequently appears for the network both on the air and in chat rooms on

Cordesman is a long-time Washington military operative and is regarded as a mainstream figure in the national security community. Before joining CSIS he worked in Senator John McCain's office as assistant for national security. He also served as the Director of Intelligence Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (the chief analyst of military espionage). His government positions also included service in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.

An enthusiastic supporter of the US in the Persian Gulf War, he authored a report for CSIS on Iraq's possession of "weapons of mass destruction."

Cordesman appeared frequently on ABC television during the Kosovo war, and advocated the use of ground troops. According to one account, Cordesman frequently characterized the NATO bombing of Kosovo as overly pacifistic (complaining on the April 9, 1999 Nightline television program, for example, that "rather than use the shock of decisive amounts of force, we've sort of dribbled bits and pieces of air power slowly out over a period of weeks").

Of late, Cordesman has shifted his focus to "homeland defense," which encompasses both anti-terrorist planning and anti-missile system development in the US. The question needs to be asked: given his advocacy of torture and repression in the Middle East, what would be the implications of these policies as applied to domestic intelligence and police operations?

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