Saturday, September 13, 2008

Israel's dark arts of ensnaring collaborators

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 13 September 2008

".....That is beginning to change with a trickle of reports indicating the extent of Israel's use of collaborators and the unwholesome techniques it uses to recruit them. "Cooperation," it has become clearer, is the very backbone of Israel's success in maintaining its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Collaboration comes in various guises, including land dealers, who buy Palestinian-owned land to sell it to settlers or the Israeli government; armed agents who assist Israeli soldiers in raids; and infiltrators into the national organizations and their armed wings who foil resistance operations.

But the foundation of the collaboration system is the low-level informant, who passes on the tidbits of information about neighbors and community leaders on which Israel's system of control depends.....

According to the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights, the Shin Bet is exploiting the distress of these families to pressure them to agree to collaborate in return for an exit permit.

Last month, the group released details of 32 cases in which sick Gazans admitted they were denied permits after refusing to become informants.

One is Shaban Abu Obeid, 38, whose pacemaker was installed at an Israeli hospital and needs intermittent maintenance by Israeli doctors. Another, Bassam Waheidi, 28, has gone blind in one eye after he refused to co-operate and was denied a permit.

But these cases are only the tip of an enormous iceberg.....

As with other occupation regimes, Israel has long relied on the most traditional way of recruiting collaborators: torture....

Detention provides other opportunities for recruitment. In the past 17 years alone, 150,000 Palestinians have been prosecuted by the military regime. According to the Israeli group Yesh Din, 95 per cent of these trials end in plea bargains, offering yet another chance to persuade a detainee to turn informant.....

It is this gentle ensnaring of large sections of the Palestinian population -- together with open threats of physical violence to smaller sections of the population -- that ensure collaboration with the occupation is endemic. This, as Israel well understands, creates an environment that frustrates successful resistance, which requires organization, cooperation and intelligence-sharing between armed factions. As soon as the circle widens beyond a few individuals, one of them is likely to be an informant.

The result can be seen in the dismal failure of most armed acts of resistance, as well as the ease with which Israel picks off Palestinian leaders it "targets" for execution.

Mr. Abdel Jawwad calls this approach "psychological warfare" against Palestinians, who are made to believe that their society is "weak, sickly and composed of untrustworthy characters."

In short, it encourages social fragmentation in which Palestinians come to believe that it is better to stab their neighbor in the back before they get stabbed themselves."

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