We should hardly be surprised that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has found that there is a basis to proceed in the case brought by the government of South Africa against Israel for genocide in its attack on Gaza. Israel has a very bad record in matters such as this, most notably, in its ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Less well known is its barbaric behavior during and immediately after the Six Day War of June 1967.
At least those who are familiar with the event know that the Israelis shot up lifeboats and even dropped napalm on the deck of the USS Liberty during that war. Less well known is its use of napalm in its eastern theater of operations. The following account is from Canadian religious journalist A. C. Forrest in his 1971 book, The unHoly Land:
One of the horror stories being told in Amman was of the experiences of fleeing refugees being sprayed with napalm. At first I didn’t believe it and shuddered at the thought of using some of the pictures of victims available in Jordan.
“If it were about Vietnam you’d publish them wouldn’t you?” a Palestinian said.
General Sir John Glubb, in his interpretation of The Middle East Crisis, published in July 1967 and frequently reprinted, states:
“The greater part of the Jordan army were [sic] destroyed by napalm….”
He quotes from a signed statement from a team of doctors of the American University of Beirut who volunteered to help in Jordan military hospitals:
“I handled 600 to 700 patients of whom 160 were civilians. Two hundred were suffering from secondary degree burns. I did not see a single bullet wound.”
“Many soldiers say that their units were destroyed by fire without their ever seeing an Israeli soldier.”
“A doctor reported that the Mobile Field Hospital, containing 350 patients, was incinerated with all its patients and staff by napalm,” Glubb says..
Israel tried to keep the outside world from knowing about their quiet, effective use of napalm, and Zionists abroad denied it. But some of the living victims were in an Amman hospital.
Mr. [Shukri] Saleh* was very upset about Mr. Sami Oweida, a Jericho official who remained at his post until the afternoon of July 7th, then gave in to the pleas of his family and left for the East Bank. I decided to interview Mr. Oweida, but he spoke only Arabic. Later I got a translation of his transcribed story.
“We left at 2:30 P.M. on Wednesday, and on the way to the bridge saw about 200 bodies of soldiers and civilians…. We crossed the King Hussein [Allenby] Bridge, walking. Planes were going overhead…. We tried to avoid big crowds, thinking the planes would bomb the crowds.
“Then at that moment [about 4 P.M.] I saw a plane come down like a hawk directly at us. We threw ourselves on the ground and found ourselves in the midst of fire. Children were on fire. Myself, my two daughters, my son, and two children of my cousin. I tried to do something but in vain. Fire was all around. I carried my burning child outside the fire. The burning people became naked. Fire stuck to my hands and face. I rolled over. The fire rolled with me.
“I saw another plane coming directly at us. I thought it was the end. I saw the pilot lean over and look at me.
“My daughter, Kabiba [four years old], died that night. Two children of my cousin also died. My daughter Adla, seventeen years old, died four days later.”
The Oweidas were still in hospital. When I went to Jerusalem later I had pictures of them, I am not sure why, with a lot of other film. I showed some of them to a travel agent in East Jerusalem with whom I was arranging transport to Bethlehem. His name was transliterated as “Aweidah.” “My God,” he exclaimed when he saw the pictures, “that’s my nephew from Jericho. My niece begged me to go to Amman too. But I was a refugee before and decided not to go this time.” He looked at the pictures again—of nephews and nieces and cousins, civilians who had fled from Jericho and had been napalmed from the air.
I wished I had stuck to the business of going to Bethlehem and hadn’t shown pictures from the other side.
Later I did publish one of the pictures in the United Church Observer, of a little girl recovering from napalm burns. That, I was told, proved I was anti-Semitic. To condemn napalm in Vietnam is alright. To report its use by the Israelis is considered anti-Semitic. (pp. 16-17)
*Shukri Saleh was the Palestinian Secretary of the Jordan office of the Near East Council of Churches refugee division who hosted Forrest’s visit to Jordan.