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New Israel military chief pursued ‘particularly aggressive’ tactics in 2002 invasion of Nablus

Major General Aviv Kochavi appointed as next military chief
Major General Aviv Kochavi appointed as next military chief [File photo]

The new head of the Israeli military played a central role in some of the most violent tactics deployed by the army during the 2002 invasion of Palestinians cities in the occupied West Bank.

According to the article – published originally in Hebrew by Haaretz and translated for Middle East News Service – Aviv Kochavi, now the Chief of General Staff of the Israeli military, served as commander of the Paratroopers Brigade “when it seized control of Balata camp in Nablus” in 2002.

The Haaretz article described how “the uniqueness of this operation was the ‘walking through walls’ practice, meaning entering Palestinian homes not through the dangerous alleys of the camp, but through the walls, which were destroyed by bulldozers.”

According to the report, this “was a particularly aggressive tactic which destroyed the homes of hundreds of families”, an operation extended by Kochavi “despite the Palestinians’ request to surrender”.

In addition, Kochavi “provided an intellectual cover to the systematic destruction and killing in Balata”, with the new military chief “credited with the phrase ‘reverse geometry’, which flies in the face of the accepted interpretation of urban structure – to justify walking through the walls”.

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“In so doing,” the article added, “he gave a unique legitimacy to violence: the soldiers do not destroy a neighbourhood and kill armed men, but at most act to ‘reinterpret urban space’.”

Furthermore, the report noted, in 2006 Kochavi threatened an academic journal with a libel suit, in response to an article criticising his Balata tactics written by architect Eyal Weizman.

“Threatening to sue an academic journal is a precedent-setting event,” Haaretz added, “especially for the relations between military officers and academia, which attests to Kochavi’s problematic perception of the role of freedom of expression in supervising the army and his considerable difficulty in dealing with criticism.”

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