Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Israeli attack on the UN peacekeeping outpost at Khiyam

Via the The Angry Arab News Service, Timor Göksel is interviewed by Linda Butler on his experiences as a peacekeeper in south Lebanon, and his theory for the Israeli attack on the UN peacekeeping outpost at Khiyam, an attack which resulted in the death of four UN peacekeepers (emphasis in red):

“But I personally don’t think the attacks were deliberate in the sense of targeting the UN per se. In a way, it’s worse: the Israelis just didn’t care. I mean, they knew those UN guys were there. The base was very clearly marked and they’d been hitting close to it all day, they’d been repeatedly warned. But they had their own agenda and if a couple of UN guys get killed, tough. It’s the same mindset that led them to shell the Fijian battalion headquarters in April 1996, when more than 100 mostly women and children were killed.*

Butler: But I don’t see, in this latest war, what would be gained in pounding the Khiyam post.

Göksel: Simply that the UN post was about 100 meters from the famous Khiyam prison, which had become a museum of the Israeli occupation of the south.  Hizballah had turned it into a kind of shrine of anti-Israelism and the Israelis wanted it gone. So they destroyed it, and because it was solidly built it took a while to completely level it, and a lot of what was around was leveled too. Also, Hizballah anti-tank units in Khiyam had made it impossible for the Israelis to advance toward the Biqa‘. The reserve armored brigade the IDF had sent to clear the way performed dismally, by the way. One battalion left the battlefield without orders, another battalion commander resigned in the midst of battle, and the brigade commander was left alone in the field. Not a glorious chapter in the history of the IDF. So the Israelis, as usual, brought in the air force to do the job and if that means that some UN soldiers have to die, so be it.

He also has an interesting comment on the Palestinian collaboration problem:

“Now, the Palestinians of course had a serious, built in problem, and nobody knew it better than Arafat. He said, ‘I know that people from my organization are reporting to the Israelis, but this is the price we pay for occupation.’ And it’s true – if a guy’s family is under occupation in Palestine it’s easy to turn him around. All you have to say is ‘That brother of yours in jail won’t get out for the next twenty years unless you provide us with such and such, but if you do he’ll be out next week.’ Or your father ends up in jail. You want him to stay in jail? You get the message. You do this or your family will pay the price. The Israelis do that beautifully, of course, which is why they were able to infiltrate, and still do, the Palestinian structure.”