Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Russian journalist with The Real News Network reporting on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Born in the Soviet Union, Tarachansky grew up in a settlement in the occupied West Bank. She is the director of On the Side of the Road, a documentary on Israel’s biggest taboo – the events of 1948 when the state was created. Tarachansky previously worked as a Newsroom Producer in The Real News’ Washington D.C. and Toronto Headquarters, and her work appeared on BBC, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Canadian Dimension Magazine and others.
ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.
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The bodies of three Israeli teenagers who disappeared more than two weeks ago were found in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Here to give us an update from Jaffa, Israel, is Lia Tarachansky. She’s a Real News correspondent reporting from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. She is also the director of the documentary On the Side of the Road.
Thanks for joining us, Lia.
LIA TARACHANSKY, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Thanks so much for having me, Anton.
WORONCZUK: So talk about the latest news that three Israeli teenagers were found dead and what response we’re likely to see from Israel in the next few days.
TARACHANSKY: So two very significant things happened today, the first of which is that the government finally lifted the gag order on the Israeli press to reveal that the teenagers that they’ve been reporting for the last two weeks were kidnapped were actually dead. This is something the government started leaking to the press almost immediately after the operation began on the third day, but forbade the Israeli press from publishing it. Of course, without them publishing it, the foreign press couldn’t confirm it.
The second thing that happened today that was very important is that while all the turmoil was going on with the bodies of the three teenagers, which the government claims were found today—and, of course, the two weeks of bombardment of the Gaza Strip—the Israeli parliament passed a law today that would further entrench the Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem, making the division of Jerusalem in any future two-state agreement impossible.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And in regards to the Israeli teams, has anyone thus far claimed responsibility?
TARACHANSKY: No, no one has claimed responsibility. From the beginning no one has claimed responsibility. Meanwhile, the Israeli government, and especially the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have insisted that it’s actually the fault of Hamas. Now, this is very important, ’cause it every single point where he appeared to the press and in public spheres, he insisted almost in the same sentence that while the teenagers were indeed kidnapped, maintaining the line, they were kidnapped by Hamas.
Meanwhile, when we compare this to every other incident that I’ve at least covered in my five years here and speaking to many veteran journalists, if the government actually has evidence that if they want to push forward live [sic], they almost immediately after the incident release the evidence. Oftentimes the evidence, you know, is not truthful—and we at The Real News have often proven that—but still they immediately after a claim release the evidence. Here they didn’t release the evidence, not immediately, not after, and not even now.
Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister continued to say that this is the fault of Hamas. Now, Hamas itself as a party didn’t take responsibility for this. Not one of the many branches of Hamas, including the militant branches of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, didn’t take responsibility for it. Neither did the usual suspects, the Wahhabis and the Islamic Jihad. Nor did the Fatah’s militant wing, al-Aqsa. So, as far as we know, none of the militant groups of the Palestinians have taken responsibility for it.
But the Hamas party refused to condemn it. In fact, they’ve actually said that whoever did this, you know, should be celebrated, which is what we would expect from a party that never gave up armed struggle.
Fatah, on the other hand, the Palestinian party that’s in charge of Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, has condemned the kidnapping almost on the second day since the—after the incident, but failed to condemn the Israeli government and the Israeli military’s numerous attacks on the Hamas party, including the arrest of more than 500 people in the last two weeks, the breaking into of 2,100 homes, the destruction of many of those homes, and the issue when you have more than 100 administrative detention orders to Hamas members.
Now, today the Israeli prime minister issued the following statement in the press:
“Immediately after the abduction, we said that Hamas was responsible. I think that it is now clear to everyone upon what we based ourselves. Abu Mazen [Mahmud Abbas] says that he opposes abductions; he says that he wants to proceed on the path to peace. If he stands by what he says, there is only one way to advance peace – and that is to tear up his agreement with Hamas.”
And this exactly is what this whole operation is about. The unity between Fatah and Hamas brought the latest in a series of political embarrassments to the Israeli prime minister, and he was adamant to break the unity between the two rivaling Palestinian political parties. Now it looks like the rage on the streets, on the Palestinian streets in the West Bank, as we’ve covered last week, has turned against the PA, and the Israeli government and the Israeli military at the same time have been crippling the Hamas party. So we’re seeing here both externally and internally a rift between the two parties, which will likely lead to the end of the unity.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And just to remind our viewers, like, how have Palestinians been responding to the way the Palestinian Authority handled the crisis, considering the weeks of raids that the IDF conducted throughout the West Bank?
TARACHANSKY: Yeah. So, yesterday, a former minister of the Palestinian Authority had stones and shoes thrown at him at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. We’ve seen the protests on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza against the way the Palestinian Authority has handled this situation. And as we reported last week, in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, one group—the al-Aqsa Brigade, most likely—has actually opened fire on a PA security chief. And everyone I’ve been speaking to in my time in the West Bank says that the rage against the Palestinian Authority has really reached unprecedented levels.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And do you think that Israel’s going to intensify its military actions in Gaza?
TARACHANSKY: We’ll see. I just want to remind our audience that the rage is actually about the PA’s coordination with the Israeli army. So all the while, while the Israeli army has been breaking into hundreds and thousands of homes, most of whom belong to Hamas Party members, but also many others—. For example, in the refugee camps around Nablus, anyone who spends any time in Israeli jails, which is 40 percent of the Palestinian males, for any reason at all had their house broken into, oftentimes they were beaten with for no reason, sometimes beaten into a critical condition. And they just went door to door to door to anybody who’s ever spent the time in jail.
And all this time, the Palestinian Authority—of course, from pressure from the United States—has been coordinating with the Israeli has been coordinating with the Israeli army. And this is one of the main reasons why there’s a lot of rage against that. Now, another very key curious thing about this whole incident is if indeed the teenagers were kidnapped and killed or killed while trying [not] to get kidnapped, why is the Israeli government bombarding Gaza for the last two weeks? Yesterday they killed a senior official in the Hamas Party, and as a result, for the first time since November 2012, since the last war we had here, the Hamas Party launched a rocket against southern Israel.
So we’re seeing here that there’s a very intentional campaign of agitation. There was one soldier who leaked to the Orthodox paper Behadrey Haredim that there was actually snipers in the Jenin refugee camp who were trying to shoot people to instigate stone throws. So we’re seeing that the government is intentionally trying to instigate a third intifada, which will then legitimate a very wide violent campaign against the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
WORONCZUK: Okay. Lia Tarachansky, coming to us from Jaffa, Israel. Thanks for that update.
TARACHANSKY: Thanks for having me, Anton.
WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.