The left-wing publication Counterpunch has obtained eleven U.S.-authored cables “accessed” from WikiLeaks that deal solely with “Operation Cast Lead,” the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza. Kathleen Christison, a former CIA analyst and co-author of Palestine in Pieces, has the scoop:
Though the cables often simply rehash Israeli press reporting, providing little new insight into Israel’s attack or the planning behind it, they show with pitiless clarity the U.S. government to be little more than a handmaiden and amanuensis of the Israeli military machine.
The State Department cables also reveal for the first time that while Israel waged a devastating assault on the Gaza Strip, eventually killing an estimated 1,400 Palestinians, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were actively working with Israel. Previous cables from WikiLeaks revealed that Israel had “consulted” with Egypt and the PA prior to the beginning of “Cast Lead.” The PA denied the allegations then.
A December 29, 2008 cable from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv reports (in bold on the Counterpunch page on the leaks):
At 16:00 on December 28, the IDF bombed the Phiadelphi corridor along the Gaza-Egypt border, destroying 39-40 smuggling tunnels. No Egyptian border guards were harmed. IDF contacts have repeatedly told DATT that the targeting of the tunnels was coordinated with Egypt, and that they had passed the coordinates of the attack points to the Egyptians to enable them to ensure the safety of their border forces.
A January 4, 2009 cable from Cairo notes:
As of 1500 hrs. local on January 4, Egyptian military contacts said Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing on January 4 after the Israelis gave advanced warning of their ground invasion and additional air strikes on the smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Rafah border
One December 30, 2008 cable from Jerusalem details the contacts made between the PA and Israel regarding protests against the assault in the West Bank:
PA commanders complained about IDF use of live ammunition, responsible for three Palestinian fatalities in December 27-28 protests. MG [Thiab Mustafa] Ali [the commander of the Palestinian security forces] said IDF commanders told them live ammunition is the last resort when dealing with Palestinian demonstrators, and IDF rules of engagement only authorize it when the lives of IDF soldiers or Israeli citizens are at immediate risk
Despite the “complaints,” the next section of the Dec. 30 cable notes that “both sides” agreed to “increase coordination”:
PA commanders said they told IDF officers that President Abbas and PM Fayyad both directed them to avoid situations that could develop into confrontations with the IDF. The security chiefs said Abbas and Fayyad passed a message to all Palestinian factions, at a PLO Executive Committee meeting on December 29, that only peaceful marches away from flashpoints would be permitted. PA commanders noted they have no control on over B/C areas such as Qalandiya and Nil’in, and would need IDF approval to move PA forces to those areas to prevent clashes between protesters and the IDF…
PA commanders said their IDF counterparts agreed to expedite coordination and movement requests and exchange information on possible disturbances, as both sides have an interest in preventing West Bank violence. They said both sides also agreed not to leak substantive discussions about the meeting to the press, given the sensitivity of security coordination in a time of Palestinian outrage over events in Gaza.
The new leak of what Al Jazeera is calling the “Palestine Papers” are likely to confirm the WikiLeaks revelations by publishing “details of the PA’s security cooperation with Israel” over the next few days.
Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and blogger based in New York City. You can read all of ‘The Palestine Cables’ reports here and he blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States at alexbkane.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.