Powered by WebAds

Friday, June 13, 2008

Former 'collaborators' say IDF must go into Gaza

No one knows Gaza better than the people who for years risked ending up like the bloodied man on the ground in the picture at the top of this post. No one knows Gaza like the former 'collaborators' who escaped and who have been resettled by Israel in Sderot. There are about eighty former 'collaborators' living in Sderot with their families. Their children study in Israeli schools and speak Hebrew. Al-Guardian interviewed three of them and reports on the interviews in Friday's edition. The bottom line is that these people who know Gaza best believe that the only way to stop the rocket fire on Israel is for the IDF to go in and reoccupy Gaza to impose order on Hamas and its terrorist minions.
Many of Sderot's residents are trying to sell their houses and move to safer towns beyond the reach of the rockets. But Palestinians such as Samir are moving in, in part because property is cheaper but also because there are others like them here, a community of perhaps 80 collaborators - they prefer to use a Hebrew word that translates as "assistants" - and their close relatives.

Most arrived before the rockets, when Sderot was simply an inexpensive Israeli town close to the Gaza border and convenient for occasional family visits. Those visits are now too dangerous and most of the Palestinians in Sderot now acknowledge they can never go home.

Samir was caught in 1994, the year that Yasser Arafat returned to Gaza in the wake of the Oslo peace accords. A friend and distant relative had given up Samir's name during a brutal interrogation. Samir had spent years giving the Israelis whatever information he could find about the armed groups and their planned attacks, work he kept secret even from his wife. But Palestinian collaborators risk death if they are caught by their own people.

Lucky escape

Samir was lucky: he was held in jail for four years, tortured and then forced to give up his savings, sell his land and his wife's jewellery to buy his way out of jail. Eventually one morning in 2000 he escaped into Israel and asked his handlers for help. He was given an Israeli residency permit, which he must renew every two years, and was allowed to bring out his wife and five youngest children. The five older children, who were all married, had to stay behind.

At first the family lived in Haifa and then they moved to Sderot about seven years ago. The Israeli security forces paid for the house and left Samir to restart his life.

Today his children study at the local Hebrew-language school, speak the language fluently, dress more like Israelis than Palestinians and count Jewish Israelis among their friends. One of his sons spent nearly four years working as an interrogator with the Israeli security forces at a nearby prison, questioning Palestinian detainees.

Most of those in Sderot were recruited during the years of Israel's full military occupation of Gaza, before the Oslo accords and long before the settlers were withdrawn in 2005. Some were arrested for drug-trafficking or other criminal offences and were offered work as informants as a way to escape jail time, others were uniformed policemen working for the Israeli occupation. Few seem to have started for the money.

Samir began after his brother was wrongly accused of being a collaborator and killed in the early 70s. By giving information on the groups who killed his brother he sought revenge. "Because of what they did to my brother I decided to work for the Israelis. He was so strong, so beautiful and they killed him for something he hadn't done." He hid documents in his roof and speaks proudly of how for years he operated in complete secrecy.


"I don't regret what I've done but I want my children to come out and be with me," said Subhi, 54.

He gave little away about how he started as an informant, saying only he did not work for the money and that he believed it was the right thing to do. His experience has left him believing there can never be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. "The only choice is an Israeli military occupation to clean the area of weapons," he said. "But I don't believe there can be real peace."


Not far from Samir's house is another Palestinian who spent years working for the Israeli security forces before he too fled Gaza in 1993. He was granted Israeli citizenship, and claims that he not only informed on Palestinian militants but also killed several members of Hamas.

"When the Israelis ruled Gaza people lived like kings," said the man, who is aged 58. Like other Palestinians here he takes a hard line on Gaza, saying only a major Israeli invasion will halt the rockets. "Only when the army go into Gaza can they finish it," he said. He accepts now his life is in Israel, where he boasts of his children's good school grades and his large Mercedes car. He too understands he can never go back to Gaza. "They would make a kebab out of me," he said. "They'd chop me into pieces."
They probably would. And then they'd probably hand the pieces out as souvenirs.

Read the whole thing.


At 6:18 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

And Israel's sorry record of neglect and betrayal of the few Arab friends of Israel hasn't helped the Jewish State in a dangerous neighborhood where Israel needs allies.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Sacha said...

So, so true. Read "levanon: habguida ve-habrikhah" (Lebanon: betrayal and escape.) by Aharon Amir.

It tells how badly prepared Tsahal ran away from Southern Lebanon and how little they did for the Southern Lebanese Christians who were trying to defend their land and had to run away with Tsahal in the end. Look at what we've got instead: Hezbollah.

It's about time Israel stands firmly for those in the region who are fed up with tyrants and islamists and invites them to form an alliance.


Post a Comment

<< Home