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Ye’elon, Israeli Army Chief:

Palestinians Are Responsible For ISM Activists Deaths

Major General Moshe Ye’elon blames Palesinians for the deaths of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall. Announces a new man hunt: "I gave now orders to remove the activists of this organization from the area."

Transcript from Israeli Military Radio (Galey Tzahal)

16 Apr. 2003

Dalik Volenitz (host): “One of the lessons from all through the Intifadah, and we have seen now during the war on Iraq, is the issue of the IDF’s image. And the IDF now has problems, One of the problems, are volunteers from abroad, I am speaking of this organization called ISM, who’s people are now in the territories, on the fighting line, some of them get hit, which causes great echoes in the world. How does the IDF handle this issue?”

Maj. Gen. Ye’elon: “First of all, you said ‘Intifadah’. ‘Intifadah’ is the Palestinian story. I claim this is not an Intifadah, because an Intifadah is a popular uprising, and what we are experiencing, since September 2000, is a deliberate offensive, and a strategic decision of the current Palestinian decision maker, who decided to launch a terror attack against us. This connects to this organization, ISM, who has volunteers from all over the world.

"They call themselves ‘peace activists’ but they actually came here, accepting the Palestinian story. Allegedly, from their point of view, we are the aggressors and the Palestinians are the victims. As a matter of fact, the ones who started this offensive, were the Palestinians.

"Those who initiate events in Rafah, where, unfortunately two of these activists got hit – are the Palestinians.

"An American activist who was hit by an army bulldozer who did not notice her, and a British activist who was shot, probably by our forces, although we cannot verify this conclusively. He entered an area where a terrorist was standing and shooting our forces.

"One of our snipers shoots at the terrorist, who is shooting at him, in a sector which is under our responsibility under all Israeli-Egyptian agreements, and there is constant terror activity there. This terror activity stems from the need of the Palestinian terror organizations to smuggle arms and ammunition, from Egypt to the Palestinian arena.

"This is very difficult for them, due to our activity in the area. And suddenly these activist appear in the area, supposedly in order to defend the Palestinians against us, and they create, first of all, our negative image.

"Because this definitely strengthens the Palestinian story, which, according to my understanding, is a lie, in this context. As a result, they also interfere with the activity of our forces, and slander us.

"In the story of the bulldozer, the bulldozer was leveling the ground, so that terrorists cannot get close to areas of our activity, on the Israeli-Egyptian border. The driver did notice the activist, who was in a ‘dead spot’ from his stand point, and she got hurt.

"Out comes their spokesman and says the bulldozer was about to demolish a house, and she was defending the house. This is a lie. Their spokesman said she was ran over back and forth. We have seen the body, unfortunately she was killed, this has never happened. And we had another encounter in Jenin, a short while ago, while during activity to arrest an armed terrorist, we have found him in the office of this organization.

"I gave now orders to remove the activists of this organization from the area, first of all for their own sake, they are risking their lives needlessly, but also cause provocations that interfere with our freedom of actions on the ground.

"Therefore it is best that they leave the area.”