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Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy: Occupation Won’t End until Israel Pays the Price

 ‘Peace will not come from Israeli society. Israelis will not wake up one morning and say ‘occupation is too cruel, apartheid is illegal, let’s put an end to this,’ says Gideon Levy. ‘It will only happen if Israelis start to pay for the occupation, to be punished for the occupation’

BEIRUT – According to Israeli journalist and author Gideon Levy, the Israeli army has been committing “war crimes” routinely in the occupied Palestinian territories for 55 years, not only during times of war, and the only way for the occupation to end is for the Tel Aviv government to start “paying the price.”

Levy, a writer for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, is one of the few voices in his country opposing the occupation and describing Israel as a “racist regime.”

For about 40 years, Levy, who has been personally following the events in the occupied West Bank as a journalist in the field, believes that the Israeli society and government are currently in an “extremely radical state of mind.”

Considering this situation, Levy, who does not think that Israel will make concessions for peace, believes that the only hope is international intervention.

Reminding that US President Joe Biden is preparing for the upcoming elections, the Israeli journalist says he does not find this international intervention very likely.

Describing the previous state of Israeli society as “bad enough,” Levy told Anadolu that in the last one and a half months, the society has shifted even more towards “racism.”

Expressing the view that a positive change towards peace is not possible to come from Israeli society, Levy stated: ‘It (the peace) will not come from Israeli society. Israelis will not wake up one morning and say, ‘The occupation is too cruel, apartheid (racist regime) is illegal, let’s put an end to this.'”

“In the last 55 years (of the occupation), it hasn’t happened, and it won’t happen (in the future.) It will only happen if Israelis start paying the price for the occupation if they are punished for the occupation they continue, and if they realize that the cost they have to pay to continue the occupation is too high,” he said.

However, Levy stressed that the situation “is not at that stage yet” and said the international community “needs to stop talking and take action.”
“I don’t foresee this happening in the near future. But I think the day will come when the international community says ‘enough.’ I am waiting for that day, but it doesn’t seem very close,” he added.

– ‘Israel has been committing war crimes every day for 55 years’
Former captain and air pilot Yonatan Shapira, who resigned from the Israeli army, used the words ‘the Israeli army is a terrorist organization, its commanders are war criminals’ in a statement to Anadolu in 2021.
When asked if he agrees with Shapira’s words as a journalist who has been closely monitoring the practices of the Israeli army for decades, Levy said: “First of all, Shapira is my friend, and yes, I agree with him.”
Levy stated: ‘What Israel has been doing daily for 55 years (since the 1967 occupation) in the West Bank is a war crime. From (illegal Jewish) settlers to the transfer of (Palestinian) prisoners to Israel, from nightly abductions of people from their homes to collective punishments, all of these are violations of international law.”

Emphasizing that all of this is happening in daily life, not just during wartime, Levy continued: “There is no doubt that the occupation is a crime that must end. I have been fighting against this for almost 40 years.”

Israeli media is hiding the brutality

According to Levy, most Israelis are not shown much of the “brutality” committed in Gaza.

The Israeli journalist said: “To be honest, if I want to see what is happening, I have to look at channels like Al Jazeera, TRT, and CNN because Israeli channels, media, and newspapers try not to show most of the brutality. This is how I can see the whole picture.”

Stating that attacking a densely populated place like Gaza in this way has a heavy toll on civilians, Levy said, “My speech is speechless in the face of what is happening.”

However, according to Levy, the Israeli government has almost unanimous support from society regarding the war.

Levy said: “They (Israelis) are currently united on two goals. The first is the release of all hostages, which is currently the main goal. After that, they believe they will completely defeat Hamas. I think the government has full support to continue the war.”

To the question, “Will Israel resume a full-scale attack after the ‘humanitarian pause’ ends tomorrow morning?” Israeli journalist Levy replied: ‘I’m afraid so, but the next few days will show the situation. The current dynamics are positive. The agreement is working; and hostages are returning home every day, and also Palestinian prisoners are returning home, which makes me happy. But this cannot last forever.

“I don’t think Israel will stop waging war. I hope it doesn’t return with the same intensity because if it does, it means the destruction of the southern part of Gaza; there are already more than 2 million people here,” he said.

“Even if they completely destroy the south of Gaza and defeat Hamas, the day after, Israel has no idea what will happen. There is no plan. And if there is no plan, the war should stop,” he added.

To the question of whether the US would want to stop the war or give Israel the green light for attacks again, Levy answered: “I think they will take a middle path between the two. They will not completely stop them, but they will not allow (Israel to attack) as before. Whether Israel will really listen to the US and how strong the pressure will be is a question mark.”

Levy said regarding the question of whether Israeli society would make concessions for peace: “Absolutely not at the moment. There is intense anti-Arab sentiment in Israeli society. We need new leadership. I don’t see anything (about concessions) in the current leadership and in the current mood of the Israeli public, which is currently very extreme, very nationalist, and very right-wing.

“The only hope is international intervention, but I don’t even think that will happen. Because the US is entering an election year, and I don’t think Biden will do more. I don’t see any hope right now,” he stressed.
– ‘Israel wants to expel Palestinians again, but it’s not possible’
Levy also commented on the issue of the repeated discussions among Israeli ministers and some other officials about the relocation of Palestinians outside of Gaza.

“Israel would be delighted to cleanse Gaza of the Palestinian people. The problem is that it is not ethical, not legal, and not practical at the same time,” he said.

Levy added: “No one will take 2,3 million people. No one will allow Israel to transfer 2,3 million people. Israel does not have the right to decide where the people of Gaza will live. Israel does not have the right to make such a decision.”

“Israel committed a Nakba (great disaster), and it has no right to do a second Nakba,” Levy said.

Stating that Israel constantly brings up this issue because they have no other solutions and believe they can really expel Palestinians from Gaza, Levy emphasized the extremely nationalist mood in the current state of Israel: “You know, they tried this in the West Bank too. Already, 16 villages in the West Bank have been evacuated. They couldn’t stand the settlers’ terror, and there was no one to stop them. They will try (to evacuate Gaza) as much as possible, but I don’t think it will happen. It’s not possible.”

Levy highlighted that Israel endangers the region with its actions even without possessing nuclear weapons: “Israel wants to be a Jewish state, has the right to be a Jewish state, but it also wants to have democracy, and it doesn’t work. If you want to be a Jewish state, you need a clear Jewish majority.

“There is no Jewish majority; there are currently about 7.5 million Jews and 7.5 million Palestinians between the river and the sea. You can’t be a Jewish state when two people live under your government, under your occupation, under your regime. Therefore, Israel made its choice and preferred to be Jewish (state) rather than democratic,” he said.

When asked about the freedom to criticize Israel in such a way if he were a Palestinian, Levy responded:

“The answer to this question is quite clear. Of course not. Most of what I say couldn’t be said by a Palestinian. This wouldn’t happen in the reality of Israel, especially not after a war. If I were a Palestinian, I would have been in prison for much less than what I am saying now.” -AA

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