Crimes against Humanity. Israel’s “Own Words”: “We Must Expel Arabs…We Struck Civilians Because They Deserved It”

“We must expel Arabs and take their place.”— David Ben-Gurion, October 5 1937, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Winter 2012), University of California Press, pp. 245-250.*


For 30 years, from the War of Independence until today [1981], we [Israel] have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities.(1) In South Lebanon we struck the civilian population consciously, because they deserved it… the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously … the Army… has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets … [but] purposely attacked civilian targets when Israeli settlements had not been struck.(2)

There were retaliatory actions against civilian Arab populations; the air force operated against them; the damage was directed against such structures as the canal, bridges and transport.(3)  The picture that emerges is of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr. (Prime Minister) Begin nor I would dare to mention by name.(4) There was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that afflicted populations [i.e., innocent civilians deliberately bombed] would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.(5)

We don’t have a solution, and you [Palestinians] will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants to go will go, and will see how this procedure will work out.(23)


[After Israel won the Six Day War in June 1967] We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one ‑ progressive, liberal ‑ in Israel; and the other ‑ cruel, injurious ‑ in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture.

That oppressive regime exists to this day [2002.](6)

Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us. We should remember that we too used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state. And the list of victims of terror is quite long and extensive.

We do limit ourselves to denying the [Palestinian] people human rights. We not onlyrob of them of their freedom, land and water. We apply collective punishment to millions of people and even, in revenge‑driven frenzy, destroy the electricity supply for one and half million civilians. Let them “sit in the darkness” and“starve.”

 Through its army, the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheidin the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced‑in, or blocked‑in, detention camp. All this is done in order to keep an eye on the population’s movements and to make its life difficult. Israel even imposes a total curfew whenever the settlers, who have illegally usurped the Palestinians’ land, celebrate their holidays or conduct their parades.(7)

 The main thing is, first and foremost, to hit them hard. Not just one hit… but many painful [hits], so that the price will be unbearable. The price is not unbearable, now. A total assault on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to a state of panic that everything is collapsing … fear that everything will collapse… this is what we’ll bring them to…(16)

The troops will be preceded by a ferocious pillar of fire. After the shooting, the warnings, anyone remaining in the area, in one of the most densely populated urban sites in the world is either a terrorist or knows the price to pay.(8)

The commanders and soldiers who were sent to Gaza need to know that they are safe from various tribunals.(21)

The first time we went in, we were given orders to target our machine guns at every suspicious point that could be used to fire upon us. And we shot at anything that moved. The civilians in the area had already been told that we were coming in, so I don’t feel bad for anyone hurt there. If they remained there, they must have been Hamas.(22)

I want aggressiveness – if there’s someone suspicious on the upper floor of a house,we’ll shell it. If we have suspicions about a house, we’ll take it down… There will be no hesitation… Nobody will deliberate – let the mistakes be over their lives, not ours.(20)

The commanders and soldiers who were sent to Gaza need to know that they are safe from various tribunals.(21)

What happened in the Dahiye Quarter of Beirut in 2006, will happen in every village from which shots are fired on IsraelWe will use disproportionate force against it and we will cause immense damage and destruction. From our point of view these are not civilian villages but military bases. This is not a recommendation, this is the plan, and it has already been authorized.(9)

With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes. The strike must be carried out as quickly as possible, and must prioritize damaging assets over seeking out each and every launcher. Punishment must be aimed at decision makers and the power elite… attacks should both aim at Hezbollah’s military capabilities and should target economic interests and the centers of civilian power that support the organization.

This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well.(10)

I’m telling them to stop it. We are stronger; there will be more blood there. We have power, enormous power; we can do things that are devastating.(11)

Our response will be disproportionate. We won’t go back to the rules that the terrorist organisations tried to dictate.(12)

Such a war will lead to the elimination of the Lebanese military, the destruction of the national infrastructure, and intense suffering among the population. There will be no recurrence of the situation where Beirut residents (not including the Dahiye quarter) go to the beach and cafes while Haifa residents sit in bomb shelters. Serious damage to the Republic of Lebanon, the destruction of homes and infrastructure, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people are consequences that can influence Hezbollah’s behavior more than anything else.(13)

This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well.(10)

The people who go into a house despite a warning do not have to be taken into account in terms of injury to civilians, because they are voluntary human shields. From the legal point of view, I do not have to show consideration for them. In the case of people who return to their home in order to protect it, they are taking part in the fighting.(14)

Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation [Cast Lead], which I demanded.(15)


We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages destroying all the infrastructure including roads & water.(17)

Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people

They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise,more little snakes will be raised there.(18)

Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.

Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area…

After the IDF completes the “softening” of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF willconquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.

Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever… Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel.(19)

(our emphasis)

If these quotes are at all shocking or hard to believe, perhaps consider what former Knesset member and Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery had to say in regards to Israeli reaction to the Goldstone Report, which documented Israel’s war crimes during Operation Cast Lead of 2008-09,

“The instinctive reaction in such a situation is denial. It’s just not true. It never happened. It’s all a pack of lies.

By itself, that is a natural reaction. When a human being is faced with a situation which he cannot handle, denial is the first refuge. If things did not happen, there is no need to cope. Basically, there is no difference between the deniers of the Armenian genocide, the deniers of the annihilation of the Native Americans and the deniers of the atrocities of all wars.

From this point of view, it can be said that denial is almost “normal”. But with us it has been developed into an art form.” (“Those Dastardly Anti‑Semites,” by Uri Avnery, Information Clearing House, September 19, 2009.)

I also want to make it clear that NONE of the above was in an way my own words, none of it was my own analysis of the situation, it was all words of the highest decision making bodies in Israel, save the few words I inserted here and there for continuity.

When people call you a liar, an anti-Semite, a conspiracy theorist, or any of the other names and intimidations they use to vilify you for speaking out about these truths, just remember that these are not your words, but instead the words of the Israeli Prime Ministers, the Major Generals of the IDF, the IDF Colonels, Company Commanders, Foreign Ministers, Knesset members, UN Ambassadors, lawmakers, military analysts, etc., etc.

-Critics of this article will perhaps say, ‘well what about the statements made by Hamas that bear a resemblance to these?’ and to that I have this to say:

These statements I have quoted reflect not only the ideology of Israel’s top officials and military personnel, they as well reflect the policies, behaviors, and approved methods that were used as far back as the 1980’s and that continue to be used to this very day, in Operation Protective Edge.  Similar statements made by Hamas or others can in no way justify, or excuse the Israeli leadership from authorizing and utilizing these policies of brute force that ‘wantonly inflict every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations,’ that is inexcusable, and individuals who find themselves attempting to justify and apologize for these methods, I would suggest you take a look at the recent death toll figures, I would suggest that you follow the teenagers on Twitter that are recounting their stories, do your best to expose yourself to the reality being inflicted on them there, and question just what exactly it is that you are justifying and apologizing for.

Let me remind that these findings in this report are not just mere words that some kid researched and found, they are actual bombs being dropped on civilians, they are policies designed specifically to inflict ‘intense suffering among the population,’ to bring about the ‘destruction of homes and infrastructure, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people,’ and whose goal is ‘inflicting damage and meting out punishment.’ These are not just words, they are the 7 year old children who know nothing but war- although it is really not a war that they know, of two armies opposing each other in battle, it is actually just ‘a total siege on Gaza,’ designed to ‘send Gaza back to the Middle Ages,’ of which they admit that their ‘response will be disproportionate,’ it will be ‘disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses,’ and where there will be taken ‘no consideration for human shields or environmental damage.’

They are the murder of innocent women, children, teenagers and fathers who ‘do not have to be taken into account in terms of injury to civilians, because they are voluntary human shields,’ it is a policy of doing ‘things that are devastating,’ ‘against civilian Arab populations,’ their families destroyed, ravaged, the survivors and ‘anyone remaining in the area, in one of the most densely populated urban sites in the world’ having their murders and deaths be justified by the reasoning that they ‘[are] either a terrorist,’  or that they knew ‘the price to pay.’

These are atrocities that are inflicted, codified into law, ideologically and religiously justified, apologized for and encouraged, encouraged by the diplomatic, military and economic support of the world’s largest defense spender and only truly global superpower this planet has known; they are the reality that culminates with Israeli’s setting up lawn-chairs on their roofs and hills, celebrating as we would the 4th of July the exploding orchestra that for their enjoyment lights up the night sky, all the while just a few kilometers away the wholesale extermination of an entire group of people is playing out before their eyes, and the eyes of the world… a reality of which most simply fall silent.

Statements made by Hamas have to be understood within their historical context, within the framework of the realities of the original expulsion, ethnic cleansing, and extermination of the indigenous population, and of the subsequent brutal and harsh military occupation that followed and that ‘exists to this day.’  They have to be understood alongside the fact that on top of all of this, as I have documented, Israel has been calling for their destruction and systematically has carried out attacks and terror against their civilian population.  Also important to note is the reality that Hamas has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus and the US and Israel have been constantly blocking it for decades.  (By Netanyahu’s own statements he only paid lip service to the Oslo Accords, and immediately went on to disrupt the peace agreements and aggress further on the Palestinians with a view to destroying their leadership and to inflict pain and punishment.)

Given that, they are wrong, they shouldn’t call for the destruction of Israel and they shouldn’t praise the death of Israeli citizens, but if they shouldn’t, then why should it be any different for Israel?  How come it is that basically everyone seems to instinctively accept Israel’s right to do so given that they have a much weaker case?  They are, in fact, the military occupiers, they are not subject to an extremely brutal and murderous military occupation, one which continuously assaults them with an overpowering military force that openly targets their civilians and commits extreme crimes against them with impunity, nay with diplomatic, military, economic, and propagandistic support from the world’s leading superpower; they are not imprisoned by land, air, and sea- on the contrary, none of this is happening to Israel and still they call for the destruction of Palestine and the murder of its innocent civilian population.  Surely that is much worse then the victims of occupation and subjugation calling for the same- lets just imagine for a moment that the reverse were true, imagine if Palestine and the Arabs subjected Israel and all its civilians to a brutal and harsh military occupation, that they continuously annexed Israeli land for themselves, forced Israeli’s out of their homes, kept their economy on the brink of near collapse, counted their caloric intake, put them on a diet, made them ‘live like dogs,’ and imprisoned them in such a way that the best estimates predict their homes will be unlivable by 2020.  Would Israel not call for retaliation?  Would Israel not in such a situation refer to its oppressor as a terrorist and call for their destruction?  Nay, the opposite is true, in absence of all of this and in addition to the fact that they are the perpetrators, that they continually refer to the Palestinians as terrorists, dehumanize and demonize their entire population, and call for their destruction and much worse implement that destruction, the death and slaughter of innocent Palestinian civilians, with their superior force then vilify their victims when they in turn call for the same.

Neither should be doing this, but honestly why is it that everyone accepts it when Israel does it given that ‘Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us?’  Why is it that no one bats an eye when an oppressor calls for the destruction of its oppressed?


*This Ben-Gurion quote (mentioned at the beginning of this article) is the subject of debate.  Self-appointed media watchdog CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) questioned the veracity of the Journal of Palestine Studies (JPS) original quotation of Ben-Gurion, the quotation I have used was the corrected quotation JPS gave after further investigation following CAMERA’s initial questioning.  JPS’ official response to CAMERA’s call for accuracy in which they produced the corrected quotation that I have used can be found at the link I have given, also linked here.  Following JPS’ response, CAMERA responded again by questioning the corrected JPS quotation, their response can be found here.

(A good number of quotations here I originally found in this great article from, “Israeli Criticism of Zionism and the Treatment of Palestinians: The Politicians” by Edward C. Corrigan, July 30, 2010 – much thanks to Mr. Corrigan and I highly recommend reading his entire piece.

(Also the findings of the November 2009 independent non-profit Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) report which investigated Operation Cast Lead were extensively helpful and contributed a lot to my research, as well as did Amnesty International’s report “Israel/Gaza, Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 Days of Death and Destruction.”)


1.)    Quotation of Israel’s Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur circa 1981 – Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77-78.

2.)   Quotation of Israeli military analyst Zeev Schiff, summarizing General Gur’s comments circa 1981 – Ibid.

3.)   Israel’s Prime Minister Menachm Begin in 1981 – Menahem Begin, letter, Haaretz, August, 4, 1981; translated in Israleft News Service,191, August 20, 1981, cited in Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77.

4.)   Quotation of Israel’s UN Ambassador and Labor Party Foreign Minister Abba Eban in 1981 – Abba Eban, “Morality and warfare,” The Jerusalem Post, August 16, 1981 in cited in Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77.

5.)   Quotation of Abba Eban in 1981 – Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77-78. 

6.)   Quotation of Israel’s Attorney General from 1993-96 Michael Ben-Yair in 2002 – “The Six Day War’s Seventh Day,” by Michael Ben‑Yair, Haaretz, March 3rd, 2002. This article is also reproduced in The Other Israel, Voices of Refusal and Dissent, Foreword by Tom Segev and Introduction by Anthony Lewis, edited by Roane Carey and Jonathan Shainin. (New York: New Press, 2002), p.13-15.

7.)   Quotation of Knesset member Shulamit Aloni in 2006  – “Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel,” by Shulamit Aloni, Yediot Acharonot, May 1, 2006. The article is was published in Israel’s largest circulating newspaper in the Hebrew edition but not in the English‑language YNetNews. It was translated by Sol Salbe, an Israeli-Australian editor and translator, and distributed through the Australian based Middle East News Service sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The Hebrew original is here.

8.)   Israeli Channel 10 news report of March 16, 2009 about how the IDF’s rules of engagement policy were outlined to the Knesset Committee for Foreign and Security Affairs during the time of war – Israel Channel 10 News, Friday with Drucker and Shelach, Two months after Operation Cast Lead the real stories begin to emerge, March 20, 2009: (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

9.)  Quotation of Commanding Officer of the IDF’s Northern Command, Major General Gadi Eisenkott in 2008 – Yedioth Ahronoth (Hebrew), I have incredible power, I’ll have no excuse, Saturday Supplement, October 3, 2008, by Alex Fishman and Ariela Ringel-Hoffman.

10.) Quotation of Dr. Gabriel Siboni, Colonel in the IDF reserves, in 2008 – INSS Insight No. 74, Disproportionate Force: Israel’s Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War, Gabriel Siboni, October 2, 2008: (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

11.) Quotation of then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 – Israel Channel 10 News, The Central Edition, December 25, 2008:, accessed on September 28, 2009. (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

12.) Again, quotation from then PM Ehud Olmert, this time in 2009 – Israel Channel 2 news, February 1, 2009. Available at: .

13.) Quotation of Major General Giora Eiland in 2008 – INSS Strategic Assessment, Volume 11, No. 2, The Third Lebanon War: Target Lebanon, Giora Eiland, p. 16, November 2008: . (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

14.) Quotation of a senior official off the international law division (ILD) of the Israeli Military Advocate General’s Office, made in 2009 – Haaretz, Consent and advise, January 29, 2009:

15.) Quotation of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, responsible for decision making during Operation Cast Lead, statement made in 2009 – Israel Channel 10 news, Livni warns Hamas, January 19, 2009: , accessed September 28, 2009. (Originally sourced from PCATI’s reporthere.)

16.) Quotation from Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in 2001, caught on video speaking with what presumably are family members, unawares to the fact that he is being recorded at the time – Redress Information & Analysis, Netanyahu: I deceived US to destroy Oslo accords, July 24, 2012, by Jonathan Cook: .

17.)Quotation of Eliyahu “Eli” Yishai, then Israel’s Minister of Internal Affairs, now member of the Knesset, said in 2012 – The Yeshiva World News, LIVE BLOG DAY 4: Operation Pillar of Defense, November 17, 2012:

18.) Quotation of Ayelet Shaked, Israeli lawmaker and senior figure in the Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, part of Israel’s ruling coalition, posted on her Facebook page in July 2014, preceded by this statement, “This is an article by the late Uri Elitzur, which was written 12 years ago, but remained unpublished.  It is as relevant today as it was at the time.” – The Electronic Intifada, Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians gets thousands of Facebook likes, by Ali Abunhimah, July 7, 2014: .

19.)Quotation of Moshe Feiglin, member of the Knesset and member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, written as a policy recommendation for Operation Protective Edge published in an op-ed piece for Arutz Sheva 7, on July 2014 – Arutz Sheva 7, Op-Ed: My Outline for a Solution in Gaza, by Moshe Feiglin, July 15, 2014:

20.)Quotation from an Israeli company commander in a security briefing to soldiers during Operation “Cast Lead,” in 2009 – Israeli Channel 10 TV, 21 March 2009:

21.)Quotation of Ehud Olmert, then Prime Minister of Israel, said in 2009:

22.)Quotation from Ofer, a fighter in the Golani Brigade (an elite combat unit of the Israeli army) who was in the first wave of the ground offensive – 3 The Jewish Chronicle, 5 March 2009: .

Israel Speaks (Cont.): “Blow Gaza Back to the Middle Ages… With No Other Considerations”

Steven Chovanec is an independent geopolitical analyst based in Chicago, IL.  He is an undergraduate of International Studies at Roosevelt University and is a regular writer and blogger on geopolitics and important social matters.

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