I was motivated to embark upon the research of the JNF British Park in Israel by the exchange of correspondence made public on the world wide web between the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign(SPSC) and the Jewish national Fund (JNF) UK, below:
Sent: Saturday, March 27, 2004 4: 11 PM
Subject: Copy of Press release: Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign will fight threat of legal action from Jewish National Fund
SPSC Press ReleaseIssued: 27 March 2004
For Immediate Release
Ruby Wax in Controversial Fundraiser
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign deplores the decision of the entertainer Ruby Wax to appear at a Jewish National Fund dinner in Glasgow this coming Sunday. We have called on all individuals and groups opposed to discrimination on ethnic grounds to join us in protest at this event.
As a result of some of our publicity for this protest, the SPSC has been threatened with legal action by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). A letter to our campaign from solicitors acting for the JNF is attached. They have demanded a full retraction and apology, as well as substantial damages and legal costs. None of this will be forthcoming. In addition, the SPSC web site at www.scottishpsc.org.uk was temporarily disabled this week as a result of a complaint from the JNF to our service providers.
The content to which the JNF objected included the following quotes:
- "Ruby Wax to support ethnic cleansing in Glasgow"
- "the Jewish National Fund (JNF) raises funds for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians"
- "The JNF is a quasi-official organisation of the Israeli state that exists to raise funds for the acquisition and development of land for Jewish settlement. As such, it provides one of the main mechanisms through which Israel's system of ethnic segregation and discrimination is enforced."
This final paragraph is a restatement of the findings of the 1998 report of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights. Paragraph 237 notes"grave concern that the status Law of 1952 authorizes the World Zionist organization/ Jewish Agency and its subsidiaries, including the Jewish National Fund, to control most of the land in Israel, since these institutions are chartered to benefit Jews exclusively... The Committee takes the view that large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination". (our emphasis)
As the report implies, the JNF has been a major beneficiary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians perpetrated by the Israeli state. Following the removal of the inhabitants, the state "privatised" their lands by a transfer of ownership to the JNF and related bodies. Such lands may not under the JNF charter, be returned or even sold or leased to their original owners. Millions of Palestinians languish in refugee camps as a result.
According to Israeli historians, Josef Weitz, the head of the JNF lands division during the 1948 war, was directly involved in the forced removal of Palestinians. The following quote will suffice to indicate his thinking:
"There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries ... all of them; not one village, not one tribe, should be left."
The impression one would gain from JNF publicity is of a benevolent charity whose main activity seems to be planting trees. The reality is very different.
The SPSC calls upon the Charities Commission to investigate the charitable status of the JNF and to verify that it meets the requirements of the charity commission.
The SPSC is a small organisation with limited resources which opposes all forms of racial or ethnic discrimination. We reject all attempts by the JNF to silence the voices calling for justice.
For further information please contact Mick Napier:
E-mail: email@example.com, Tel: 07803-244-739 / 0131-620-0052
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
c/ o Peace and Justice Centre, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4BJ
Chair: Michael Napier
Secretary: Caroline Greany
1. The withdrawal of the Israeli army from all the occupied territories.
2. An International Commission of Enquiry into Israeli massacres of Palestinian civilians.
3. The end to Zionist ethnic cleansing and the right of all refugees to return to their homeland.
4. The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
ORIGINAL THREAT OF LEGAL ACTION FROM JNF FOLLOWS:Dear Sirs,
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
We act for the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a charitable organisation. Today, 24 March 2004, we have been referred to an article on the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Website set up or caused to be set up by you on the World Wide Web system. On the Internet address http://scottishpsc.org.uk you published the following words defamatory of our client:
"Ruby Wax to support ethnic cleansing in Glasgow"
"the Jewish National Fund (JNF) raises funds for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians".
"The JNF is a quasi-official organisation of the Israeli state that exists to raise funds for the acquisition and development of land for Jewish settlement. As such, it provides one of the main mechanisms through which Israel's system of ethnic segregation and discrimination is enforced".
These words meant and would have been understood to mean that our client supports the unlawful expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their homelands. This slur is particularly damaging because of the inference that our client is abusing its charitable status. The allegation and the imputation and/ or inference are each entirely false.
Our client has never raised funds or used their funds for the purposes of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians or indeed of any ethnic group.
Your publication of these allegations on the Internet on a Website which is readily accessible to users of the system constitutes a very serious libel and has cause our client very serious embarrassment. The extent of the damage caused to our client's reputation is evidenced by the fact that in the course of 2? hours your Website has been accessed over 100 times as recorded on the Websites' front page.
In the circumstances our client requires you to remove the Website or at least the words referred to above and any similar words or phrases. Also our client requires as a matter of urgency a full and unequivocal retraction and an apology in terms to be approved by us together with an undertaking not to repeat these allegations. Our client is also entitled to substantial damages upon which we invite your proposals. In addition, our client will also require payment by you of all legal costs it has incurred in this matter.
We look forward to hearing from you without delay. If we do not receive a constructive response to this letter by 12 noon on 25 March 2004 our instructions are to issue proceedings for damages, costs and to apply for injunctive relief. In that eventuality, we would be obliged if you could indicate to us as quickly as possible the name and address of a solicitor who can accept service of proceedings on your behalf. In the meantime our client reserves all of its rights.
PHILIPPSOHN CRAWFORDS BERWALD
Philippsohn Crawfords Berwald Solicitors╩ Lawson House 294-295 High holborn
London WC1V 7JG Tel : +44 (0) 207 831 2691╩ Fax : +44 (0) 207 405 8629
email : firstname.lastname@example.org; www.pcblitigation.com
Having read the above exchange, I wrote to SPS Secretary, Caroline Greany, in my academic capacity and suggested that they call upon my expertise on the subject of the JNF as associate author with Walter Lehn of the only critical study of the Jewish National Fund published in English, The Jewish National Fund, Kegan Paul International, London, 1988 to the effect that I was happy to lend my authority as an expert witness to support the SPSC defence against the threat by the JNF to take legal action and issue proceedings against the SPSC for damages, costs and to apply for injunctive relief, subsequent to the publication of the SPSC press release deploring the decision of the entertainer Ruby Wax to appear at a Jewish National Fund dinner in Glasgow.
I further suggested that legal action be taken directed, in the first instance, to divest the JNF UK, or more precisely, the JNF Charitable Trust UK, of its tax exempt status under British law, and in the second instance, to have the JNF and its various affiliates and daughter companies to be illegal organiyations under EU law.
It is in this context the the SPS invited me to Scotland for two public lectures under SPS sponsorship on the subject of the JNF UK, one in Edinburgh (24 May 2004) and one in Glasgow (25 May 2004).
Given the context, I thought it appropriate to anchore my address in Edinburgh and Glasgow in relevant fieldwork, and it very quickly emerged that the relevant fieldwork would involve a visit to the British Park in Israel.
The research presented here was carried out in preparation for my Edinburgh and Glasgow meetings, supported by a research team with a camera in the field, namely, the British Park and its environs. In Israel special thanks are due to Itai Afeq, Susi Mordechai, Raid Salame and Ashraf Abu Muhh for their assistance with the fieldwork; and in the UK to Ivan Clark John Harrison and Judith Perera for their IT support, and Sophia MacLeod and Mick Napier for their hospitality.
"to protect the land, green the landscape and preserve vital ecosystems. Through the generosity of donors ..., JNF continues this effort, planting seedlings, maintaining forest health, combating desertification, protecting watersheds and managing water flow" (http://www.jnf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=workinisrael)
According to JNF official narrative, today the
"JNF and its partners must grapple with the challenge of balancing the phenomenal growth and development Israel has experienced in the last decade with the maintenance of an ecologically sound environment. Indeed, ecological activities in recent years have been marked by significant growth as JNF has become increasingly responsive to the rapidly evolving needs of the country: new water resources and land management, alternative techniques for utilizing brackish and flood water sources, soil conservation issues and river restoration."
The JNF claims to be "historically committed to strengthening the ties between man and land" and further claims that "with the advances of man and technology on the environment, JNF's role as guardian of the land becomes ever more critical."
It is in this connection that the JNF projects its afforestation activities. "Israel", claims the JNF website, "is the only country in the world that will enter the 21st century with a net gain in numbers of trees. JNF has planted over 220 million saplings, providing luscious belts of green covering more than 200,000 acres. JNF national forest development work balances population needs with limited forest 'supply. ' While the forests of Israel belong to the people, JNF ensures their environmental soundness while promoting optimal use."
The reader is then invited to "purchase trees and help maintain Israel's green spaces through our On-line Tree Planting Center by clicking here." (http://www.jnf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Forestry_and_Ecology)
We are further informed by the JNF that
"[f] amily life in the center of one of the most explosive geo-political hot spots in the world [namely, the Middle East] can be difficult. But the land of Israel, with more natural beauty and history per square inch than any other country, literally fills the souls of its people. The land, with its parks, forests, historic sites and recreation areas developed by JNF, provides much needed respite from the pressures of daily life. Indeed, the importance of tourism and travel throughout the land to the lives of Israelis cannot be overstated." (http://www.jnf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Tourism_and_Recreation)
And finally, the signpost at the entrance of the British Park (see photograph below) proclaims the JNF as "Permanent Fund for Israel for the Welfare of Residents of Israel".
It is now left to us to examine the official JNF narrative above in terms of the documented facts on the ground, taking the British Park as a case study.
"in the heart of Judean Plain, covers some 40,000 dunams (10,000 acres; 4,000 ha) between Beit Shemesh and Beit Govrin. The park nestles amid hills peaking 350 meters in altitude and clad in mature natural scrub and planted forests. It is dotted with archeological remains, dugout caves and abandoned fruit gardens." (http://www2.kkl.org.il/tiyul/english/trip6.htm)
I propose to attend to the "archeological remains", the "dugout caves" and the "fruit gardens" further below.
"which maintains the park, installs lookouts and outdoor recreation areas, marks trails and scenic routes, and tends the woodlands." (Ibid)
As the official narrative notes,
"several roads lead to British Park. The route outlined here starts at the northern entrance to the park, which is somewhat west of Moshav Zecharia, on the Zecharia-Re'em Road (No. 383), near the 18-km. marking." (Ibid)
"The recreation area is a good place to get organized before setting out along the marked trail. Near the recreation area, you will see a cistern carved into the rock and covered with a grate; next to it, there is a reconstructed terrace. The trail rises to the side of the terrace, heading into Mediterranean scrub. From time to time you will come upon a wooden bench, where you may sit to enjoy the view. You will pass a small cave, after which the trail brings you to the nearby Four-Way Junction." (Ibid)
More about the "cisterns carved into the rock and covered with a grate" and the "reconstructed terrace" also further below.
An idication as to what the reader might expect is offered in the official narratives as follows:
"On the southwest slopes of the tel, you will again cross a terrace opening. On the right, there is a large water cistern and sedimentation pit. Further on along the trail, you will come across another wine-press with three puzzling, connected grooves near the treading area. At a guess, they may have held the grapes prior to treading. The trail follows the course of a reconstructed terrace. On the right, you can see the landscapes of the low-lying plain. On a clear day, there is a good view of the area between Tel Aviv and Ashkelon. Below you are large fruit gardens of the abandoned village of Ajur, which is where the trail is leading. About 200 meters on from the wine-press, you will leave the trail, which continues straight on, and go down to the right via four stairs through the opening in the terrace. This junction is marked by large, prominent stones. The trail leads straight down to the Oak Recreation Area, named for the tree here that grew to uncommon proportions. Beneath the oak, there is a mound of stones, probably denoting a sheikh's tomb or other holy spot, which may explain why the oak, too, is considered holy and was therefore left untouched to grow so big." (Ibid)
How was the Palestinian Arab village of Ajjur "abandoned"?; Who planed the "many fruit trees: almond, olive, fig, as well as sabra hedges" across the adjoining dirt road down the broad vale? How come the "Ajur vale contains a very deep well, carved into the rock"?
As the text here quoted further suggests "[s]tone troughs are still scattered here and there." -but whose thoughts? What is the relationship between the British Park and Moshav Zecharia?. Where are the Muslim communities whose Sheikh is buried under the tomb cites above? Where are the shepherds who had left the deep grooves on the top course of the stones, made by the ropes with which they had "raised pails of water from its depths." (All phrases in quotes taken from Ibid).
More on these questions, below.
The beginning of an historically valid answer is provided by the official JNF narrative itself:
"From here, continue down the vale, parallel to the sabra hedges, passing another well, in which a fig tree grows. Stop at the junction near the large terebinth tree, to the right (north) of the junction. Though the trail continues to the right, take the left fork amid terraces and fruit trees, to the hill where the center of Ajur village once was. A little before the top of the bare hill, there is a cave opening (to the left of the trail). Inside it, there are fine remains of an olive press, including the catchment and crushing stones, as well as part of the beam on which weights were hung for the extraction of juices. If you're feeling too lazy to go up to the olive press, you can relax in the shade of the huge terebinth (the entrance is on the other side), while your companions make their way to the cave.
To bring you back to the starting point, the trail rises northward from the large terebinth and reaches another deep well, near the junction. Go up to the two large almonds trees (on the east) in the fruit garden, and continue straight on to the Five-Way Junction, where you left your car." (Ibid)
The demolition of a civilian locality; the razing to the ground of its residential structures; the denial of the right of the civilian inhabitants of the locality concerned to the titles of their properties and to return to the localities where properties to which they hold titles are situated; and the arbitrary alteration of the usage of the said properties ľ every one and all represent gross violations of UN resolutions relevant to the question of Palestine and constitute war crimes under international law, notably, the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Adopted on 12 August 1949 by the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, held in Geneva from 21 April to 12 August, 1949 and entrered into force 21 October 1950) and the Convention (No. 169) Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (Adopted on 27 June 1989 by the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation at its seventy-sixth session and entrered into force 5 September 1991), specifically Article No 4:
1. Special measures shall be adopted as appropriate for safeguarding the persons, institutions, property, labour, cultures and environment of the peoples concerned.
2. Such special measures shall not be contrary to the freely-expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.
3. Enjoyment of the general rights of citizenship, without discrimination, shall not be prejudiced in any way by such special measures.
According to Walid Khalidi, the relevant statistics and facts for the village of 'Ajjur referred to above read as follows:
District of Hebron
Israeli occupation date: July 23rd-24th, 1948
Distance from district center: 24 (km) Northwest of Hebron
Elevation from the sea: 275 (meters)
Israeli military operation: Operation Yo'av
Israeli attacking brigade: Fourth Battalion of Giv'ati Brigade
Village defenders: Egyptian Muslim Brotherhoods, local Palestinian militias and some Arab Liberation Army volunteers.
Village remains: After destruction by Israelis 'Ajjur was mostly destroyed with the exception of three houses remain standing to this date.
Ethnically cleansing by Israelis: 'Ajjur inhabitants were completely ethnically cleansed.
Land ownership before occupation in dunums: Arab 44,771; Jewish 0; Public 13,303. Total: 58,074 (27,655 cultivable )
Population before occupation: 1931 2,917 (includes Khirbat al-Sura); 1945 3,730 (includes Khirbat 'Anunuriyya)
Number of houses: In (1931): 566 (includes Khirbat al-Sura)
Schools: The village had two schools: the 1st was a private school known by Abu al-Hasan school, and the 2nd was founded in 1934.
Religious institutions: 'Ajjur had two mosques: the 1st was an old mosque which was built during the Fatimid period, and the 2nd was built during the British Mandate period.
Shrines/maqams: 'Ajjur contained four shrines within its borders.
Archeological sites: 'Ajjur was the site of the important battle of Ajnadin (A. D. 634), in which the Muslim Arabs triumphed over the Byzantines, and it also contains other 22 archaeological sites.
Israeli settlements on town lands: 'Agur, Tzafririm, Giv'at Yesh'ayahu, Li-On (established 1960, now renamed Saraigi) & Tirosh.
According to the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, the village remaining structures on the village land are: "Only three houses remain; two are deserted and one has been turned into a
warehouse. One of the deserted houses is a two-story stone structure that has a large, triple-arched front porch."
(Based on http://www.palestineremembered.com/Hebron/Ajjur/index.html and Walid Khalidi (ed), All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington DC, 1992, pp. 206-207).
As the official narrative of the text above strongly suggests, and the photographic evidence appended herewith documents the British Park is planted inter alia on the lands of Ajjur
Also, as the photographic documentation appended herewith also depicts there are still structures of the Palestinian Arab village of 'Ajjur inside the outline boundaries of the settlement of Moshav 'Ajjur, built in 1950 (for Jewish residence only) close to the ruins of the Palestinian Arab village of the same name, which prior to the Israeli ethnic cleansng of 1948-49 was one of the larger Arab rural localities in the country. Following the Israeli ethnic cleansing of 1948-49, the indigenous Palestinian Arab people of 'Ajjur remain either stateless 1948 Palestine refugees mostly outside the the 1949 armistic lines (the "Green Line") in Dheisha and 'Arrub refugee camps, south of Bethleghem, and otther camps in the occupied West Bank or some, perhaps, as internally displaced persons, inside the State of Israel, known as "present absentees" in that they are "present" as tax-paying citiyens, yet "absent" in that under the Absentees' Property Law of 1950 they have been dispossessed of all they rights to their properties acquired in the territories that became the State of Israel in 1948: homes, lands, bank accounts, shares, safe deposits, jewlry etc.
As noted above demolition of a civilian locality; the razing to the ground of its residential structures; the denial of the right of the civilian inhabitants of the locality concerned to return to the localities where properties to which they hold titles are situated; as well as complicity with such acts -are all war crimes under international law.
The planting of the British Park over the lands of destroyed Palestinian Arab villages including 'Ajjur ("A Gift of the Jewish National Fund of Great Britain") and the development of recreational facilities in such JNF forests can in no way be described as "charitable" and ought not be granted tax exempt status under British law. Rather it ought to be classified as an act and as a policy of complicity with war crimes in that the said British Park and the recreational facility developed in the shade of its forest trees serve to veil from critical public view war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army in the course of and in the wake of the 1948-49 war, and maitained by subsequent Israeli Governments, underpinned by Acts of Parliament (Knesset legislation) such as the Jewish National Fund Law of 1950 and the Covenant signed between the Jewish National Fund on the one part and the Government of the State of Israel on the second part in 1961.
The second indigenous Palestinian Arab locality referred to obliquely in the official narrative of the JNF with reference to the "Shiklon ruins" in British Park is "Beit Zecharia":
"At the upper wine-press, the trail splits. Continue up to the Shikelon Ruins on the left (eastern) fork. At the top of the ruins you will see a handsome, carved wooden pillar, the vestige of a grand building, probably a church. This could be the church that appears on the Madaba map, near the settlement of Beit Zecharia. According to the map, which was sketched into a mosaic floor in Byzantine times, a grand church in memory of St. Zecharia stood here. Behind the pillared front of the building, you will find a yard in the shape of a semi-circle, probably the holy man's burial place. Prof. Avi Yona surmises that the church was dedicated to Zecharia, father of John the Baptist. The top of the ruins offers a fine view of the Ela Valley and Mt. Hebron." (Ibid)
An additional reference to the settlement of Beit Zecharia appears in the official signpost for
the ruins of "Tel Azekah", decorated with thee official logos of the JNF, the Antiquities
Authority and and Society for the Protection of Nature.
Tel AzeqahThe locality of Azeqah - an important fortress city in the patrimony of the Tribe of Judeah, which controlled one of the passes from the coastal plain to the mountains of Judeah, is mentioned in the [annals] of the wars of Joshua against the five kings of the Amorites as well as the battle between Israel and the Philistines, where David killed Goliath ('The Philistines collected their forces for war and massed at Socoh in Judah; they camped between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes-dammim', The First Book of Samuel, Chapter 17, Verse 1), and is one of the cities fortified by King Rehoboam [of Judeah). Azeqah is mentioned in an Assyrian clay tablet describing the conquest of the city by King Sennacherib, and later the Prophet Jeremia describes the city in connection with the campaign of devastation led by King Nebuchadnezzar. In the years of the return to Zion, a nuber of families from the tribe of Judeah returned to settle in Azeqah, and the locality remained settled also in the Roman-Byzantine period. In the Medsaba map of the sixth century AD the name of Azeqah does not appear, instead the Byzantine name of the settlement is given -Beit Zecharia, a name preserved until today in the name of Moshav Beit Zecharia in the vicinity of the ruins.
The mound of the ruins rise of the height of 347 metetrs above sea level, and offer a [good] overview of th Elah Valley and the landscape of coastal plain and the mountain. In the slopes of the mound hideaway systems [of subterrranean caverns and halls] were uncovered, probably from the Bar Kokhba period."
More about the hideaway systems of subterrranean caverns and halls, below.
What the two paragraphs above omit from mentioning is that the settlement of Beit Zecharia (for Jews only) was built in 1950 on the ruins of the indigenous Palestinian Arab village of Zakariyya.
According to Walid Khalidi, the relevant statistics and facts for the village of Zakariyya
referred to above read as follows:
District of Hebron
Israeli occupation date: October 23rd, 1948
Distance from district center: 25 (km) Northwest of Hebron
Elevation from the sea: 275 (meters)
Israeli military operation: Either Operations ha-Har or Operation Yo'av
Israeli attacking brigade: Possibly Giv'ati Brigade's Fourth Battalion
Village defenders: Egyptian Muslim Brotherhoods, local Palestinian militias and some Arab Liberation Army volunteers
Village remains: After destruction by Israelis Zakariyya was partially destroyed, and the all remaining houses and its mosque became the property of the Jewish National Fund and Israeli government. Some Kurdish or Khazari Jews have taken residence in some of its houses.
Ethnically cleansing by Israelis: Zakariyya was completely ethnically cleansed on June 9th, 1950 based on the orders of Yosef Weitz, a Jewish National Fund (JNF) official.
Land ownership before occupation in dunums: Arab 15,311; Jewish 0; Public 9; Total: 15,320 (7,484 cultivable)
Population before occupation: 1931 742; 1945 1,180
Number of houses: In (1931): 189
Town's name through history: Zakariyya was known to the Romans by Caper Zacharia.
Religious institutions: One Mosque (still standing)
Archeological sites: According to the Bible David fought Goliath at Tall Zakariyya
Israeli settlements on town lands: Zekharya and possibly Beit Shamesh too.
(Based on http://www.palestineremembered.com/Hebron/Zakariyya/index.html) and Walid Khalidi (ed), All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington DC, 1992, pp. 224-226).
War crimes are not subject to the rules of legal limitation. Yet, it is quite possible that in addition to the veiling of the war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army and by the Israeli provisional Government and subsequently elected Governments inter alia against the Palestinian Arab localities of Zakariyya and 'Ajjur in the course of and in the wake of the 1948-49 war the British Park veils additional and no less permicious violations of international, namely, depositions of illegally stockpiled nuclear weapons. This is what the website www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/israel/facility.htm has to say:
Special Weapons Facilities
Locale Latitude Longitude Nuclear CBW Missile Aircraft Command Be'er Yaakov 31░56'N 34░39'E Dimona 31░00'N 35░08'E Eilabun 32░50'N 35░23'E Haifa - RAFAEL 32░50'N 35░00'E Haifa - Kishon Port 32░50'N 35░00'E Mishor Rotem 31░03'N 35░10'E Nes Ziyyona 31░55'N 34░48'E Nevatim 31░13'N 34░54'E Palmachim 31░49'N 34░42'E Sedot Mikha 31░47'N 34░52'E Soreq 31░49'N 34░42'E Tel Aviv 32░04'N 34░46'E Tel Nof 31░50'N 34░50'E Tirosh 31░45'N 34░53'E Yodefat 32░50'N 35░16'E Zachariah 31░47'N 34░52'E U/I Facility Near Ramla 31░55'N 34░52'E U/I Test Site 34░52'E 34░52'E Rafah Military Garrison 34░52'E 34░52'E
- The secret arsenal of the Jewish state
- Could Israel's nuclear assets survive a pre-emptive strike? By Harold Hough Jane's Intelligence Review 01/09/97
- Israel The Nuclear Potential of Individual Countries Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Problems of Extension Appendix 2 Russian Federation Foreign Intelligence Service 6 April 1995
- NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST Giuseppe Nardulli, Union of Scientists for Disarmament-USPID, Italy
- Israel and the Bomb, by Avner Cohen
And specifically with reference to
Beit Zachariah / Zekharyeh
Sedot Mikha / Sdot Micha
The Israeli Air Force reportedly has three squadrons [150, 199 and 248 squadrons] equipped with Jericho nuclear-tipped missiles at the Sedot Mikha [Sdot Micha] base, 45 km south of Tel-Aviv. The Sedot Mikha Jericho IRBM base is located near the town of Zekharyah, east of Ashkelon and south east of Tel Nof AB, and south of the Sorek River between Kiriat-Gat and Beit-Shemesh.
Some western publications incorrectly use the term Sedof Mikha for this facility. Other nomenclature associated with this facility includes Hirbat Zachariah, Kfar Zekharya, Zachariah, and Zekharyeh.
It is reported that classified satellite imagery discloses about 100 missile emplacements, evenly divided between the Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles. The Jericho-1 missile, developed in the late 1960s and deployed in facilities at Sedot Mikha, themselves constructed beginning in 1967, was believed to have achieved a range of over 450 kilometers. An advanced version, the Jericho II, with a range of at least 1,500 kilometers, was reported to have been test-flown in the late 1980s. As many as 50 Jericho-2 missiles may be based at facilities which were built in the 1980s. The base is built in a limestone region with numerous caves and small hills which have been hollowed out to house the Jericho 2 and its TELs, which are rolled out for firing. In December 1990, just before the Gulf War, Jericho-2 missiles were brought to readiness for firing, and Israel test-fired a Jericho from the Sedot Mikha facility.
Ikonos imagery acquired in the Spring of 2002, indicates that facilities previously associated with Israel's Intermediate Range Jericho Missile Base, are likely munitions storage facilities, supporting the Tel Nof air base, and probably serve as a central ammunition depot for Israel.
After reviewing the new imagery, and comparing it to other sources, we estimate the number of hardened missile shelters capable of supporting operational IRBM's to be between 23 and 50 shelters. It is possible that two structures that appear to be multiple-drive-through garrages could support an additional 10-20 IRBM TELs.
This new view is supported by comparing declassified Corona satellite imagery, with a Russian 1:50,000 scale map published in 1987, and NIMA 10-meter CIB (Controlled Image Base) with the new Ikonos imagery. A trapezoid shaped munitions storage area once thought to be the Jericho II missile base, has the visual signature associated with conventional munitions storage.
The C-shaped earth-berms protecting the above-ground storage buildings are too narrow to maneuver road-mobile IRBM Transporter-Erector-Launchers (TELs) in and out with ease. Other munitions storage facilities near the village of Tirosh and just south of Highway 3, predate the IOC of the original Jericho Squadron. The driveways are too narrow to support missile tranporters or transloaders. Futhermore the trapezoid-shaped storage area post-dates the initial Jericho garrison 4 kilometers to the east, by at least five to ten years, and pre-dates the IOC of the Jericho II by three to four years.
The new satellite imagery fails to shed light on the question of which missiles are deployed at Zakaria. There are three possibilities:
1. The Jericho I IRBM was removed from operational service with the introduction of the longer range Jericho II. Under this scenario, the base at Zakaria was converted to Jericho II, and the Jericho I was retired. While there is no proof of this, one reason to justify this possibility is the high cost associated with refurbishing and extending the service life of the Jericho I solid-rocket motors, which probably have exceeded their reliable usable life-span. US Minuteman missile rocket motors required the propellant to be repoured, after 20 years of service. The US invested heavily in this service-live extension program spending, several billion dollars.
2. The Jericho I IRBM was kept in service at Zakaria, and the Israelis built a new and more secret missile base elsewhere for the Jericho II. If it exists, this new base has survived leaks, and disclosure from defectors, and remains one of Israel's most secret facilities. On the other hand, Israel is a small country and there are only so many places to build brand-new missile bases.
3. A third possibility is that Israel only has one strategic IRBM base, located at Zakaria, and both the Jericho I, and II are deployed there. One problem with this theory is that there does not seem to be enough hardened missile shelters to support the reported 100 missile emplacements. Ikonos imagery reveals about 21 probable shelters.
4. Lastly, some of the missile lauchers could be deployed in the field. Unlike the US deployment of Pershing II and Cruise missiles in Europe, there are simply not very many locations that are secure, and free from detection by hostile enemies or terrorists.
The enquiry could begin by putting the following questions to the JNF and the JNF Charitable Trust:
And take it from there
Uri Davis (Dr)