Israel’s Official Ethnic Cleansing Program

It’s been playing out in slow motion for more than 100 years, writes Jonathan Cook.

Israeli forces bombing Gaza Strip, Oct. 10. (Al Araby, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Jonathan Cook

The missing context for what’s happening in Gaza is that Israel has been working night-and-day to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people from their homeland since even before Israel become a state — when it was known as the Zionist movement.

Israel didn’t just cleanse Palestinians in 1948, when it was founded as a Western colonial project, and again under cover of a regional war in 1967. It also worked to ethnically cleanse Palestinians every day between those dates and afterwards. The aim was to move them off their historic lands and either expel them beyond Israel’s new, expanded borders or concentrate them into small ghettos inside those borders — as a holding measure until they could be expelled outside the borders.

[Related: Britain Is Ensuring the Death of a Palestinian State]

The “settler” project, as we call it, is a misnomer. It’s really Israel’s ethnic cleansing programme. Israel even has a special word for it in Hebrew: “Judaisation,” or making the land Jewish. It is official government policy.

Gaza was the largest of the Palestinian reservations created by Israel’s ethnic cleansing programme and the most overcrowded. To stop the inhabitants spilling out, Israel built a fence-barrier in the early 1990s to pen them in. Then when policing became too hard from within the prison, Israel pulled back in 2005 to the outer perimeter barrier.

[Related: WATCH: CN Live! — John Pilger & Ilan Pappé on Palestine]

Erez Crossing in 2005, at the northern end of the Gaza Strip. It is the main crossing point for Palestinians off the Gaza Strip wishing to enter Israel. (Zero0000, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

New technology allowed Israel to besiege Gaza remotely by land, sea and air in 2007, limiting the entry of food and vital items like medicine and cement for construction. Automated gun towers shot anyone who came near the fence. The navy patrolled the sea, stopping boats straying more than a kilometre or two offshore. And drones watched 24 hours a day from the sky.

[Related: Israel Using Biometric Cameras to Terrorize Palestinians]

The people of Gaza were sealed in and largely forgotten, except when they lobbed a few rockets over the fence — to international indignation. If they fired too many rockets, Israel bombed them mercilessly and occasionally launched a ground invasion. The rocket threat was increasingly neutralised by a rocket interception system, paid for by the U.S., called Iron Dome.

Moshe Dayan on Gaza, from a eulogy he delivered in 1956 for a murdered settler. (Consortium News)

[Related: Seeking Accountability for Gaza]

Palestinians tried to be more inventive in finding ways to break out of their prison. They built tunnels. But Israel found ways to identify those that ran close to the fence and destroyed them.

Hamas’ tunnels uncovered by the IDF in July 2014 in the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Palestinians tried to get attention by protesting en masse at the fence [in 2018]. Israeli snipers were ordered to shoot them in the legs, leading to thousands of amputees. [50 Palestinians were killed in cold blood at the border.]

The “deterrence” seemed to work. Israel could once again sit back and let the Palestinians rot in Gaza. “Quiet” had been restored.

Until, that is, last weekend when Hamas broke out briefly and ran amok, killing civilians and soldiers alike.

[Related: Uprooting the Causes of Violence in Gaza & Israel]

Die-in protest in Chicago in May 2018 against Israeli forces that year killing unarmed Gazan civilians during peaceful right-of-return demonstrations. (Charles Edward Miller, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0)

So Israel now needs a new policy. It looks like the ethnic cleansing programme is being applied to Gaza anew. The half of the population in the enclave’s north is being herded south, where there are not the resources to cope with them. And even if there were, Israel has cut off food, water and power to everyone in Gaza.

[Drafts: Chris Hedges: Israel & the Rise of a New Fascism]

The enclave is quickly becoming a pressure cooker. The pressure is meant to build on Egypt to allow the Palestinians entry into Sinai on “humanitarian” grounds.

Whatever the media are telling you, the “conflict” – that is, Israel’s ethnic cleansing programme – started long before Hamas appeared on the scene. In fact, Hamas emerged very late, as the predictable response to Israel’s violent colonisation project.

And no turning point was reached a week ago. This has all been playing out in slow motion for more than 100 years.

Ignore the fake news. Israel isn’t defending itself. It’s enforcing its right to continue ethnically cleansing Palestinians.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021.He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). If you appreciate his articles, please consider subscribing to his Substack page or offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog Jonathan  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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23 comments for “Israel’s Official Ethnic Cleansing Program

  1. doris
    October 19, 2023 at 11:45

    Come on y’all! God’s chosen children have the right to defend themselves against their victims!

    The US “Christian” government supports the state of Israel because their Book of Revelation tells them it’ll spark the second coming of Christ, during which time they’ll all be raptured up to heaven. When God is on your side in a theocracy, slaughter in the name of righteousness (manifest destiny), becomes policy. Male sky god religion trumps compassion, logic, and reason at every turn. The US is supposed to be a secular nation, free of religious trappings, (see First Amendment), but sadly, that’s never been the case. It has committed and continues to commit mass atrocities across the planet since its inception, as patriarchal religions have done since men created them. This is not to say there aren’t amazing, loving people in those religions, but the hypocritical zealots who control our planet seem to be intent on manifesting their destiny to the death and destruction of the entire “Creation.” All in the name of the Lord of Love/Prince of Peace. I can’t figure out how they got from “Thou shalt not kill,” and “God is love,” to “Full Spectrum Dominance.”

  2. firstpersoninfinite
    October 18, 2023 at 00:04

    All I know is that the church a mile away from where I live, here in the rural south of the USA, has a sign saying, “We Support Israel.” Which is the same as saying, “We don’t support the rest of humanity.” Time to pull the plug on state-supported, ecumenical fascism. Any “Christian” organization taking any side, other than that which hopes for the peaceful reduction of violence in any situation involving opposing forces, can now take Christ from the cross and melt down the gold leaf for its coffers. Time to face the honesty of your chosen path. Good luck selling time shares in a future Armageddon. I think the view from the balcony will disappoint you.

  3. Arch Stanton
    October 17, 2023 at 18:54

    For hundreds of years, Britains meddling in world affairs has caused more death and suffering for mankind than anyone else in history. Even now, the carnage we are seeing in Gaza is all Perfidious Albions fault.

    This evil empire enthusiastically supports the Genocide of Palestinians, and not even the deliberate bombing of a hospital tonight will change a thing.
    The mouthpiece of this empire, the BBC, has made sure that Israel’s denial of the hospital bombing is not only the main header of their website, but it’s also in size 40 font so you remember it.

    What a sick world we live in.

  4. DMCP
    October 17, 2023 at 17:38

    The colonization of Israel by Zionist Jews has striking parallels with the colonization of western America after the Civil War. In both cases the colonizers worked by gradually pushing the prior inhabitants into smaller and smaller reservations. Moshe Dayan’s cool frankness about the process is also comparable to statements by American generals during the western campaign.

    Israel was to be a land without people for a people with a land. But for that to happen, as in America, it meant systematically removing the people who were already there.

    But, as Moshe Dayan also noted, this is what colonizers do; it is what they have always done.

  5. ray Peterson
    October 17, 2023 at 16:20

    A sickening continuity: President Biden is sending
    two air craft carriers and two thousand troops to support
    Israel, with the fourth largest military in the world; to ensure
    the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, using a very 9/11 kind of
    attack. 9/11 becoming for the U.S. the excuse for permanent
    wars, in the Middle East wars for oil; and excusing Israel’s
    massacre of Gaza’s Palestinians and finishing off stealing their land.

  6. October 17, 2023 at 12:13

    The claim that Israel is defending its right to exist is a charade disguising its “God granted” right to steal land from others.

  7. October 17, 2023 at 11:57

    The fundamental problem facing Zionism from the very beginning was their insistence on having their own homeland. Unfortunately, at the time, there was no land that wasn’t already occupied so the only alternative was to take land from someone else. The Jews had once occupied Israel, so the decision was made to return and take it a second time.

    • XpatPaula
      October 17, 2023 at 17:27

      Archeological evidence seems to point to “Israel” occupying but a small part of that area, along with several other peoples.

    • doris
      October 19, 2023 at 11:49

      By that mindset, the US needs to return its land to the indigenous folks who were here first. And if there really is a God, it would seem that indigenous peoples would be Its “chosen people,” as they are the best stewards of the “Creation.”

  8. JG
    October 17, 2023 at 11:24

    Netanyahu has been exposed FUNDING HAMAS. This is criminal conspiracy. Treason. Crimes Against Humanity. Terrorism–from the current Israeli regime. Arrest Netanyahu first, immediately.

  9. Charles E. Carroll
    October 17, 2023 at 11:00

    I’ve thought for sometime how the IDF reminds me of the Nazi SS.

  10. Vera Gottlieb
    October 17, 2023 at 10:19

    The so-called ‘Salami tactic’…slowly but surely, one slice at a time and hardly noticeable. FOR SHAME, israel…FOR SHAME!!!

  11. michael888
    October 17, 2023 at 09:43

    This is what Israelis do. Remember the Sabra and Shatila massacres the Israel Defense Forces oversaw in Lebanon? Toothless condemnation follows, but the Israelis obtain their goals.

    Sadly the US has followed Israel’s lead in dehumanizing the Other, and pushing total, no rules, warfare and collective punishment of civilians (sanctions). It is inhumane , atrocious, reprehensible. But then Israel and the US squeal and whine when Hamas ‘behaves’ the same way. Expect other countries to adapt such ‘shock and awe’ tactics and merciless attacks on civilians.

    And while most countries don’t have militaries to challenge the US/ Israel/ NATO, biological weapons are cheap and easy to produce, thanks to Anthony Fauci and Ralph Baric. Robert Kadlac has been pushing bioweapons, as used in North Korea but afterwards confined to attacks on agriculture. Bioweapons will be the third world’s choice; gain-of-function offers so many possibilities to bright young scientists with unconscionable Israeli or American mindsets.

    • J Anthony
      October 18, 2023 at 07:11

      Yes I try and tell folks who are ignorant or swept up in the Israeli-prop, that it is they with support of the US who has created and maintained the conditions that give rise to terrorism. It’s always a hard pill to swallow for those who have been fooling themselves.

  12. susan
    October 17, 2023 at 09:22

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You would think that after their unthinkable experiences with the German SS, Israel would never have ended up being just like their former captors. But here they are doing the same things to the Palestinians – confining them to ghettos, starving them, maiming them, killing them, murdering their children, and many more atrocities to numerous to mention here. Personally I would have thought that Israelis would have learned some humility, gained some humanity to never let something like their atrocious experiences happen to anyone else and yet here they are being the perpetrators…

  13. J Anthony
    October 17, 2023 at 08:49

    The way mass medias is portraying this in the west is abominable. It is hard to believe that so many still swallow the blatant propaganda, or are so susceptible to it even though it’s well-known around the world what has led up to this. TV, print and internet spots portraying the Hamas attack as some kind of out-of-nowhere thing are ubiquitous. It is the neocon playbook step-by-step. This article among many others says it best, it’s just revolting. I don’t know that the US gov or citizenry can get any more hypocritical.

    October 17, 2023 at 05:21

    Still can’t understand how anyone can question the power and influence the Zionists have over the world with
    the entire western government (not the people) sit not just idly by but support the slow genocide of a nation. Our leaders over
    the last 70 years are complicit in a crime that eventually will be compared to the Hitlers’ final solution.

    • Lois Gagnon
      October 17, 2023 at 08:39

      Indeed. Anyone condoning Israel’s actions including the media is complicit in genocide. They need to be reminded of that on a regular basis. It might cause at least a few to think twice before continuing down that evil path.

    • Valerie
      October 17, 2023 at 09:24

      “entire western government (not the people) sit not just idly by”

      They are not idle James. They are busy rounding up the truth tellers:


  15. LeZ
    October 17, 2023 at 05:17

    It appears to be in the war plans of Hamas to lure the IDF into a ground force invasion.
    They would have figured on a certain number of prior civilian casualties as the IDF Air Force collapsed entire buildings, killing everyone inside.
    This can go on for only so long until the IDF is forced to conduct ground force operations.

    The IDF will take high casualty rates.
    The IDF is not the Russian Armed Forces – Chechen Forces who are the masters of street warfare close in work and who removed very well dug in Ukrainian – NATO Forces, the latter having spent several years prior to the SMO creating underground fortifications in Eastern Ukrainian cities, now gone, with cities rebuilt of underway.

    Like NATO – Ukrainian Forces, IDF Forces are also overrated, never having taken on a peer competitor and having the benefit of air cover.
    This will not be the case in an urban conflict, perhaps the reason for a delayed foray and the delivery of US bunker buster munitions.

    Europe is awash with US-NATO-UK armaments sold out of The Ukraine.
    One may expect damaging or very damaging actions in European cities by pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli factions, not necessarily the same thing.

    There is a reason this campaign was called Al-Aqsa Flood, arising from events of October 4th and one that does not sit well with the entire World of Islam.

    Washington’s unconditional support for Tel Aviv has proved disastrous for Washington and Tel Aviv.
    The Decline of The West is written in the centres of Western Liberal Democracy, so called . . .

  16. Valerie
    October 17, 2023 at 04:38

    I wonder what would have been said/done if Mr. Putin with his SMO had gone into the Ukraine and committed the same atrocities. The leaders of the west/NATO had/have the capability to stop all this but they do/did the opposite and fueled the hatred and aggression. As do the MSM/tabloids. Shame on you all.

    • Arch Stanton
      October 17, 2023 at 08:33

      The west accepts the slow genocide of Palestinians because of who and what they are. The west still has a racist colonial mentality, that much is evident now, they are all complicit in this tragedy for not speaking out.

      • Valerie
        October 18, 2023 at 12:59

        They all just follow the narrative. Racist and prejudiced.

Comments are closed.