Posts Tagged ‘war on Gaza’

Israeli soldiers: Talk to Hamas

February 15, 2010

As Israeli soldiers we hang our heads in shame over last year’s attack on Gaza’s civilian population. Dialogue, not war, is needed

by Arik Diamant and David Zonsheine, The Guardian/UK, Feb 15, 2010

Gaza conflictCivilians flee during last year’s war on Gaza. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli media marked the one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the war on Gaza, almost as a celebration. The operation is recognised almost unanimously in Israel as a military triumph, a combat victory over one of Israel’s deadliest enemies: Hamas.

As combat soldiers of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), we have serious doubts about this conclusion, primarily because hardly any combat against Hamas took place during the operation. As soon as the operation started, Hamas went underground.

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Israel’s Gaza blockade continues to suffocate daily life

January 19, 2010

Amnesty international, 18 January 2010

Palestinian girls try to cross a flooded street, Shati refugee camp, Gaza City

Palestinian girls try to cross a flooded street, Shati refugee camp, Gaza City

© Associated Press

Israel must end its suffocating blockade of the Gaza Strip, which leaves more than 1.4 million Palestinians cut off from the outside world and struggling with desperate poverty, Amnesty International said one year on from the end of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Amnesty International’s briefing paper Suffocating: The Gaza Strip under Israeli blockade gathers testimony from people still struggling to rebuild their lives following Operation “Cast Lead”, which killed around 1,400 Palestinians and injured thousands more.

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European Human Rights Lawyers To Sue Israeli Officers For War Crimes

October 28, 2009

Saed Bannoura,IMEMC, Oct 28, 2009

28gaza-children_killed.jpg

A number of European lawyers and human rights activities stated that they obtained names of Israeli army officers suspected of committing war crimes during the war against the Gaza Strip earlier this year.

 

The lawyers said they would be filing lawsuits against the officers for committing war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Israeli paper Haaretz said that the lawyers collected testimonies from residents of the Gaza Strip in preparation to file the lawsuits.

The lists are being filed in Britain, Spain, Norway, Belgium and Holland as the legislation in these countries allow arrest warrants against war crimes suspects.

Haaretz added that attorney Daniel Makeover, from London, told its reporter that the report of Judge Richard Goldstone will be helpful in the lawsuits.

Israel said it would be countering the lawsuits, and that it is preparing legal teams but did not offer further details.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that it is working against the issue which it described as ‘efforts carried out by pro Palestinian groups and their supporters to harm Israel’.

Last month, former Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Moshe Yaalon, had to cancel a trip to London due to fears of being apprehended there.

Yaalon is the current vice Prime Minister and Minister of the so-called Strategic Affairs.

Criminals shouldn’t be allowed to investigate themselves

October 22, 2009

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Khalid Amayreh, uruknet.info, October 21, 2009

In its rabid efforts to whitewash the Goldstone report, Israel is likely to carry out another disingenuous probe into its genocidal onslaught against the Gaza Strip nearly ten months ago.

The report, compiled by South African judge Richard Goldstone, himself a Jew, accused Israel of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians.

As many as 1400 Palestinians, mostly non-combatants including more than 330 children, were killed during the 22-day campaign which some historians and intellectuals compared to the allied saturation bombing of the German city of Dresden at the close of the Second World War.

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Israel dismisses UN war-crimes charges

October 14, 2009
Morning Star Online, October 13, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday never to allow the state’s leaders or soldiers to stand trial on war-crimes charges for their attacks on Gaza last winter.

Earlier this week, a UN report written by former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas government of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Mr Goldstone strongly criticised the Israeli military for launching indiscriminate missile attacks on civilians.

But Mr Netanyahu responded furiously, denouncing the report as “distorted” and claimed that the UN was “encouraging terrorism” by daring to criticise Israel.

Mr Goldstone, who is a Jewish South African, accused the state, which continues to occupy Palestine in defiance of UN resolutions, of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure as well as having used people as human shields.

His report also accused Hamas of deliberately targeting civilians and trying to “spread terror” through its rocket attacks.

But Mr Netanyahu angrily criticised the report’s portrayal of Israeli leaders as war criminals, claiming that “the truth is exactly the opposite.”

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Galloway: Delivering a message to Obama

July 19, 2009
Morning Star Online, Friday 17 July 2009

George Galloway

I have just returned from Gaza with the Viva Palestina US Lifeline 2 convoy. Our aim was partly about delivering aid, but it was also partly about delivering a message. Having raised the funds for the convoy and gathered the volunteers, we set off on US Independence Day, July 4, from John F Kennedy airport in New York to Cairo, where we purchased desperately needed vehicles and medical supplies to drive down to the Egypt-Palestine border.

We then ran into a series of bureaucratic obstacles from the Egyptian authorities, but the convoy members showed incredible resilience and patience. After a considerable amount of delicate negotiation, we finally received the go-ahead.

The convoy was supported by Vietnam war veteran Ron Kovic, whose life story formed the basis for Oliver Stone’s Born On The Fourth Of July, along with many others.

And accompanying me through the Rafah crossing on Wednesday were presidential candidate and former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and New York council member Charles Barron, alongside over 200 other US citizens.

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Israeli troops describe deliberate killing of Gaza civilians

March 20, 2009

• Accounts contradict army version of fighting

• Military chiefs promise inquiry into disclosures

Striking testimony has emerged from Israeli soldiers involved in the recent Gaza war, in which they describe shooting unarmed civilians, sometimes under orders from their officers.

One soldier described how an Israeli sniper shot dead a Palestinian mother and her children, adding that troops believed Palestinian lives were “very, very, less important than the lives of our soldiers”.

The accounts, published in two Israeli newspapers yesterday, gives rare insight into how the soldiers acted. It reinforces Palestinian accounts of disproportionate Israeli force and contradicts the Israeli military’s official version of events.

The accounts come from unnamed soldiers who were graduates of a pre-military course at Oranim Academic college, in Tivon, near Haifa. Their testimony was given in mid-February, and the transcript of the session was published this week.

Ha’aretz newspaper printed one infantry squad leader’s description of the shooting of unarmed civilians: “There was a house with a family inside … We put them in a room … a few days after there was an order to release [them]. There was a sniper position on the roof. The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was OK, and he should hold his fire and he … he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders.

“The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them … In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.”

He believed the sniper did not feel regret. “I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because, after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to … I don’t know how to describe it … the lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very, less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way.”

According to a Palestinian human rights group, more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the three-week war, which began in late December. Thirteen Israelis were killed in the conflict.

A second squad leader, from the same brigade, related how a commander told troops to shoot a Palestinian woman walking near a house the soldiers had taken over. He added that “to write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them” happened “just because you can”. The Israel Defence Forces had “fallen in the realm of ethics”, he said. Another soldier, recalling ransacking Palestinian homes, said: “The entire contents of the house flew out the windows: refrigerator, plates, furniture.”

The head of the Oranim course reported his concerns about the soldiers’ observations to the army chief, Major General Gabi Ashkenazi. Yesterday the Israeli military first denied “any previous knowledge or information” but later said the chief of staff had received a letter from the course head. The military said an investigation would be held into the accounts.


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