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April 25, 2003

Galei Tzahal (Israeli Military Radio) Transcript of an excerpt from Open line with the Chief of Staff

(Is this an Intifada or what?)

On Passover Eve, April 16, 2003 at 08:00, the program Open Line with the Chief of Staff was broadcasted, during which Lt.-General Moshe Yaalon spoke with soldiers and commanders about current events. The Chief of Staff addressed questions by the programs presenter, Dalik Vilenitz, about the activists from a human rights organization (ISM) in the Palestinian territories:

Dalik Vilenitz: One of the conclusions from the whole course of the intifada, and were seeing it now in the war in Iraq, is the question of the IDFs image. The IDF is currently facing problems, one of which is the overseas volunteers. Im talking about the ISM organization, whose people are in the territories, on the combat line. Some of them have been injured, which has led to strong shock-waves throughout the world. How is the IDF coping with this matter?

Chief of Staff: First of all, you said intifada. Intifada, this is the Palestinian story. I claim that this isnt an intifada, because an intifada is a peoples uprising, while here what we have experienced since September 2000 is a proactive attack and a strategic decision by the current Palestinian decision-maker, who took a decision to embark on a terror assault against us. And this is connected to that organization, ISM, an organization with volunteer activists from all over the world, who prepare their peace activists, and they came here after accepting the Palestinian story. Ostensibly, as they see it, we are the aggressors and they are the victims. In factual terms, the ones who started this aggression are the Palestinians. Thos who initiated the incidents in Rafiah, in a place where unfortunately two of those activists were wounded, were the Palestinians. An American woman activist was killed there by an IDF bulldozer which did not see her and a British activist was wounded in the head, apparently by our forces, although we are unable to authenticate this conclusively, who entered an area where a terrorist was standing and firing at our forces. One of our snipers fired towards the terrorist who was shooting at him, in an area where we have responsibility under all the Israeli-Egyptian agreements. There are incessant terror operations there, stemming from the Palestinian terror organizations need to smuggle weaponry from Egypt into the Palestinian-held area, and they now find it hard because of our operations there.

And all of a sudden these activists appear in the area. On the face of it, they are protecting the Palestinians from us. First of all, they create the negative image we have, because it certainly strengthens the Palestinian story, which according to my understanding is fabricated in this context. And as a result of this, they also impede the operations of our forces. As for the bulldozer story, the bulldozer was being used in an operation intended to flatten the ground so the terrorists would not be able to approach the axis of our action on the Israel-Egypt border. It did not see the activist, who was standing in a dead zone in terms of vision, and she was killed.

Their spokesperson says about this that the bulldozer was supposed to destroy a house and that she was protecting the house "a lie". Their spokesperson reported that the bulldozer drove back and forth over the body, we saw the body, regrettably she was killed, and no such thing happened. We also encountered an incident in Jenin some time ago, during operations to arrest an armed terrorist, and he was in the office of that organization.

I have just given an order to remove the organization's activists from the area, firstly for their own benefit - they are endangering their own lives in a superfluous way - but are also creating provocations that injure our freedom of action on the ground. And so its advisable that they get out of the area.