Posts Tagged ‘collective punishment’

Khader Adnan Mohammad Musa: Israeli Prisoner of Conscience

February 2, 2012

By Stephen Lendman , War Is  A, February 1, 2012

In 1948, brute force established Israel. In 1967, militarized occupation of one-fifth of former Palestine followed.

An entire people suffer. Collective punishment is official policy. So are torture, violence, land theft, apartheid, injustice, and other forms of state-sponsored terror.

They include imprisoning Palestinians for wanting to live free on their own land in their own country. As a result, since June 1967, over 750,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned.

Arrests occur regularly. Middle-of-the-night raids terrorize nonviolent men, women and children. Alleged “ticking bomb” ones are held in the name of “security.” So are various other type political prisoners. Denied all rights, they’re brutalized for praying to the wrong God.

Continues >>

EU Found Guilty at First Session of Russell Tribunal

March 16, 2010
RTP is a peoples’ legal initiative (David Vilaplana/
By Ewa Jasiewicz and Frank Barat, The  Palestine Chronicle,  March 16, 2010

The first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) was heard in Barcelona, Spain earlier this month. The RTP is a peoples’ legal initiative designed to systematically try key actors responsible for the perpetuation of human rights violations in Palestine.

In the frame this time was the European Union (EU). Two days and 21 expert witness testimonies later, the RTP found individual states and the EU as a whole guilty of persistent violations and misconduct with regards to international and internal EU law. These included: assistance in perpetrating the crime of apartheid — deepened in definition as applicable to the violation of the inalienable right of return for refugees and the collective punishment and ghettoization of Gaza; aiding the procurement of war crimes and crimes against humanity particularly with regards to Gaza; and violating the Palestinian right to self-determination, aiding illegal colonization, the annexation of East Jerusalem and theft of natural resources.

Continues >>

The Egyptian Journalist as War Criminal

January 11, 2010
by Ahmed Amr, Media Monitor Ntwork, Jan 10, 2010

“A siege by its very definition is an act of war. In the case of Gaza, the Egyptian/Israeli siege amounts to collective punishment against an innocent population that committed the unpardonable sin of electing a leadership that is anathema to Cairo and Tel Aviv. It is an act of war that is not sanctioned by the international community. Moreover, it is an extension of last year’s barbarous Israeli invasion of Gaza. The scribes at Al Ahram and other Egyptian government papers can’t have failed to notice that the former Israeli Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, and other Israeli officials are now facing prosecutable war crime charges as a consequence of the illicit and unjustifiable murder of nearly 1,600 civilians. And there is no arguing the fact that the Egyptian regime gave tacit approval to that invasion.”

It’s time somebody issued a word of caution to those scribes at Al Ahram for their support of Egypt’s participation in the illegal siege of Gaza because their actions could very well turn out to be prosecutable war crimes. And if these journalists think this is a stretch, they are well advised to review the proceedings and findings of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal for Nazi War Crimes. That’s the legal body that, in 1946, sentenced Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Sutmer, to hang. In imposing the harsh verdict, the court cited evidence that “with knowledge of the extermination of the Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territory, this journalist continued to write and publish his propaganda of death.”

There is an even more recent case that’s worth paying a little attention to. In 2004, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted three Hutus for their role in inciting genocide against Tutsis. That case set a legal precedent and a warning to journalists and editors who use their pens to aid and facilitate war crimes. As I noted in a previous article “One of the Hutus convicted by the Rwanda Tribunal was Hassan Ngeze, the editor of Kangura, an extremist magazine. He was convicted based on articles that were written several years prior to the onset of the Rwanda genocide. The court found that he had participated in creating a psychological environment that made the genocide possible.” The Rwandan Tribunal went so far as to press charges against Simon Bkindi for composing and singing jingoistic ballads that incited Hutus to kill Tutsis.

A siege by its very definition is an act of war. In the case of Gaza, the Egyptian/Israeli siege amounts to collective punishment against an innocent population that committed the unpardonable sin of electing a leadership that is anathema to Cairo and Tel Aviv. It is an act of war that is not sanctioned by the international community. Moreover, it is an extension of last year’s barbarous Israeli invasion of Gaza. The scribes at Al Ahram and other Egyptian government papers can’t have failed to notice that the former Israeli Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, and other Israeli officials are now facing prosecutable war crime charges as a consequence of the illicit and unjustifiable murder of nearly 1,600 civilians. And there is no arguing the fact that the Egyptian regime gave tacit approval to that invasion.

But the other thing to pay attention to is that international law against war criminals is constantly evolving. So what might not qualify as definitive prosecutable crime today could very well be considered a crime in a decade or two. And the thing about war crimes is that they are retroactive and the passage of time gives no immunity to the perpetrators. Add to that the prospect that you never know what’s going to happen in Egypt or what kind of government will ascend to power in the coming years. Egypt’s current hostility towards the Palestinians could turn on a dime and new authorities might be inclined to take extraordinary measures against those who participated in promoting the illegal siege of Gaza.

As a result of the siege, hundreds of Palestinians have died due to the lack of medication, food and shelter. I’m not a lawyer but I think one can make the case that collective punishment that results in the death of innocent civilians is a war crime.

If anybody doubts that Al-Ahram and its journalists are directly aiding and abetting the illegal siege, they can easily cast aside such doubts by taking a glance at the front page of the paper’s January 8th edition. A day after religious extremists attacked and murdered six Coptic worshipers at a Christmas service in Naga Hamadi, the front page headlines focused on the death of an Egyptian soldier at the Gaza border. He was apparently killed by a Palestinian gunman. While Al Ahram’s scribes correctly made the case that the vicious killers at Naga Hamadi are by no means representative of the Egyptian people, the same paper is attempting to justify the siege by blaming the murder of the soldier on the entire population of Gaza. That’s an inflammatory and calculated act of incitement to justify war crimes against the people of Gaza.

War crimes aside, there is currently no excuse for supporting Egypt’s disastrous and embarrassing policy. The only rationale for Egypt’s continued participation in the siege is the stubborn rigidity of its foreign policy architects and their unwillingness to reassess the consequences of a tactical decision that was made under pressure from the Bush administration. There’s a new man in the White House and this might be a good opportunity to test him on the wisdom of America’s continued support for the siege. Even Obama is not immune from future war crime charges relating to the siege of Gaza.

Make no mistake, there’s a war crime going on in Gaza and everybody involved in aiding and abetting it should take a little time to consider the future price they might pay for their active participation. This is a call to every Egyptian journalist to exercise caution. Nobody is suggesting they confront the dictatorial regime that cuts their pay checks. But this might be a good time to exercise cautious passivity. So here’s a word to the wise – refuse all assignments to write articles supporting the siege.

Obama’s AfPak war engulfs Pakistan’s Swat Valley

May 23, 2009
By James Cogan |,  May23,  2009

A humanitarian catastrophe is taking place in areas of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), as a result of the Obama administration’s expansion of the occupation of Afghanistan into the so-called “AfPak war”.

Over the past seven years, ethnic Pashtun Islamist movements in NWFP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have lent assistance to the resistance being waged against the American-led forces in Afghanistan by the Pashtun-based Taliban, including by disrupting US and NATO supply routes through Pakistan.

On Washington’s insistence, the Pakistani government of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ordered the military to embark on operations to crush the militants. In late April, Pakistani forces deployed into the Lower Dir and Buner districts of NWFP to drive out a small number who had moved into the area from their strongholds to the north, in the Swat Valley district.

Since May 8, the operation, which now involves up to 18,000 Pakistani troops, backed by air support and heavy artillery, has extended deep inside the Swat Valley. Over the past two weeks they have engaged in a series of battles against the vastly outnumbered and outgunned Islamist fighters.

There is virtually no independent reporting from the conflict zone. Most information coming out of Swat is sourced directly from the military, making its accuracy questionable.

What is clear, however, is that the assault into Buner, Lower Dir and the Swat Valley has rapidly degenerated into the savage collective punishment of entire Pashtun communities. Hundreds of thousands of terrified civilians have taken to the roads to get out of the conflict zone. By the beginning of this week, the United Nations had registered 1.45 million internally displaced persons.

The exodus from just these three districts is becoming the greatest displacement of civilians on the Indian subcontinent since the 1947 partition of the British Raj into India and Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people have found themselves in squalid refugee camps, without adequate food, water and sanitation. Peasant farmers have had to flee right at the time when they need to harvest their crops, setting the stage for severe food shortages and malnutrition later in the year.

A factor in the mass evacuation is the sheer brutality with which the Pakistani military waged an offensive in the nearby tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand last year. Scores of towns and villages, including the major town of Loe Sam, were indiscriminately reduced to rubble in order to dislodge Taliban fighters. The government claims that over 1,500 militants were killed, while relief agencies estimate that over 500,000 people were forced from their homes. There is no estimate on the number of civilian deaths.

The depopulation of the Swat Valley is a conscious policy aimed at creating the best conditions for the military to slaughter the anti-government guerrillas there as well.

Reports indicate that a three-pronged offensive is underway to trap as many militants as possible in the central Swat city of Mingora. Army columns have pushed through Buner and Lower Dir and entered Swat from the south. Another column is moving through Swat from the north, while special forces units were dropped deep in the mountains to force Islamists out of the western Peochar Valley. In one bloody two-week battle for control of a mountain ridge known as Biny Baba Ziarat, the military claims to have slaughtered 150 Taliban, including boys no older than 14.

While the details are sketchy, the military has also waged significant battles to take control of a number of Swat towns, as well as the strategic bridges and roads linking Mingora with the outside world. It is already claiming that it has killed over 1,100 militants, at the cost of some 60 soldiers. Over recent days, troops have been fighting street-to-street battles in the town of Kanju, on the outskirts of Mingora proper.

An Al Jazeerah video shot on May 16 near Mingora showed helicopter gunships attacking highways and other targets; children playing among partially demolished homes; and the potholes caused by the controlled explosion of mines placed by militants on the roads.

The description of the situation in Mingora is reminiscent of Fallujah in November 2004, prior to the murderous US assault that destroyed the Iraqi city and left thousands dead.

Mingora previously had a population of some 250,000. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been told that as few as 10,000 people remain. The Pakistani government has provided a similar estimate, but declared those remaining are all “Taliban sympathisers,” in order to justify a massacre in advance.

HRW reported that Mingora has not had electricity since the offensive began, and hospitals and health facilities are not operating. Now, the army is cutting off food supplies. The city is believed to be defended by several thousand fighters, who have few heavy weapons and are being repeatedly pounded by air strikes and artillery bombardments.

Spelling out the intentions of the military, Major General Sajad Ghani told the Associated Press: “The noose is tightening around them. Their routes of escape have been cut off. It’s just a question of time before they are eliminated.”

The militants in Swat are followers of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), or the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law. While TNSM has ideological affinities with both the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban led by Baitullah Mehsud, it is a local organisation. It gained support in the district as a backlash against both Islamabad’s support for the US invasion of Afghanistan and anger over the endemic poverty that faces the majority of people in what was once one of the country’s premier tourist locations and playgrounds for Pakistan’s rich.

TNSM’s leaders, cleric Sufi Mohammad and his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, used a network of FM radio stations to combine Islamist preaching with populist calls for wealth redistribution and denunciations of the Pakistani government’s neglect of the poor. After several years of fighting, the Pakistani government agreed to a ceasefire with TNSM in February which accepted that its version of Islamic law could be imposed in the Swat Valley.

Over the following weeks, the TNSM sought to expand its influence to the neighbouring district of Buner, which is located only 100 kilometres to the north of Islamabad. This led to exaggerated claims by the Obama administration and in Western newspapers that the Pakistani government had allowed the “Taliban” to grow so strong that they were threatening to take over the country’s capital. The purpose of the accusation was to pressure Zardari and Gilani into unleashing the military to crush the spread of Islamist influence.

The government has made clear that the offensive to destroy TNSM is only the first stage of a campaign of military violence on behalf of the Obama administration. The Pakistani ruling elite fears being denied the international financial assistance they need to stave off economic collapse. At present, the Pakistani state is being kept afloat by loans from the International Monetary Fund and aid from the US and Japan.

Zardari told the British Sunday Times on May 17: “We’re going to go into Waziristan, all these regions, with army operations. Swat is just the start. It’s a larger war to fight.” He went on to appeal for $1 billion in emergency assistance aid. Thus far, the US and other powers have agreed to provide just $224 million.

The Pakistani Taliban strongholds in North and South Waziristan are of the greatest strategic concern to US occupation forces fighting in Afghanistan. Afghan fighters are known to use these tribal agencies, which are virtually outside the control of the Pakistani government, as safe havens and supply points.

The US military has launched repeated missile attacks on targets inside Waziristan using unmanned Predator drones. Illegal under international law, the strikes have resulted in the deaths of over 700 civilians but have only killed a handful of alleged Taliban leaders and had little impact on the cross-border movements of anti-occupation fighters.

A ground assault into Waziristan will see the Pakistani military in battle against the large Pashtun tribal forces loyal to Baitullah Mehsud and the Afghan Haqqani network. Periodic fighting since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan has resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 troops and unknown numbers of militants.

The Pakistani Taliban has responded to the threatened offensive with an ultimatum to the government that it has until May 25 to withdraw its troops from South Waziristan, end the Predator attacks and allow traffic in and out unchecked. Reports suggest Islamist fighters are strengthening defensive positions in anticipation of a military attack.

Fear of an offensive has triggered the beginnings of another mass civilian exodus. Several thousand Pashtun tribal families have arrived over recent days to take refuge in NWFP towns such as Tank, to the south of Waziristan. Officials cited by the Dawn newspaper on May 20 reported that 5,000 tents have been sent to the area in preparation for the influx of over 200,000 civilians.

The sources of Arabs’ Shame – Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia

January 16, 2009

By Abbas Bakhtiar, Tehran Times, January 12, 2009

Israel is continuing its bombing of workshops, administrative buildings, roads, bridges, fuel depots, prisons, schools and mosques; killing and injuring large number of civilians in one of the world’s most impoverished and densely populated areas of the world.

The Israelis are following their old method of destroying everything that makes a society a society, the infrastructure. The collective punishment of the Palestinians for what Hamas or Islamic Jihad is supposed to be doing or has done, reminds one of the collective punishments that Nazis meted out in the occupied areas in Eastern Europe during the WWII.

International Red Cross just issued a statement condemning Israel for its brutality against civilians. There are several things that seem to have shocked the Red Cross. In one episode after several days of heavy pressure from the Red Cross, several ambulances were allowed to enter a neighborhood to evacuate the injured civilians. In one house they found 12 bodies all civilians and mostly women and children. They also found four very young children still alive next to their dead mothers, too weak to stand. They have been holed-up in the same house for close to 4 days.

Apparently the whole neighborhood was full of dead and injured civilians with Israeli forces only 80 meters away. According to the Red Cross the Israeli forces knew of the situation and not only didn’t do anything to help the civilians, but also were stopping Red Cross from providing assistance. Representative of the Norwegian Red Cross’ People’s Action calls this a war crime.

But this is only the tip of the ice berg. The Israeli forces have begun to use civilians as human shields. According to Amnesty International Israeli forces occupy civilian houses and keep the civilians as hostages on the first floor, while they position their soldiers on the second floor; ensuring that any fire on the house (especially with anti-tank or RPG missiles) kills the civilians as well.

In yet another report, the United Nations condemned Israel for targeting civilians. The head of the UN agency in Gaza running the school that was attacked by Israel forces categorically rejected the claim by Israel that Hamas fighters were in or even near the school. Israel bombed the UN run school, killing 43 children and injuring 100.

Israel also targets ambulances and humanitarian relief convoys in Gaza. According to UN, at least one Palestinian was killed when UN relief convoy came under fire from Israeli forces. “The attack took place as the lorries traveled to the Erez crossing to pick up supplies that were to have been allowed in during a three-hour ceasefire.”

The atrocities committed by Israel is a genocide of a conquered people. Gaza is a concentration camp and no amount of PR can reduce the magnitude of this horrible crime against humanity and decency.

But Israel is Israel. She has shown that cruelty is in her nature. Here I am talking about the successive Israeli governments and not Israeli people in general. I am sure there are many in Israel that if became aware of what really is happening would not approve of it. This of course excludes the settlers and the Zionist movement. These groups like the South African white supremacists consider others to be inferior to them; or that they have the God given right to do as they please.

But states seldom are representative of their people. It is the elite and / or the governing class that makes the decisions. The state of Israel is determined to never allow the Palestinians to have a viable state. The maximum that they are willing to allow is some form of Bantustan (South African) or North American reservation (for Native Americans). With carte blanche from U.S. and most of the European powers, Israel has been implementing this policy. Setting-up such a system takes many years. People’s spirit has to be crushed through collective punishment, economic strangulation and above all excessive and continuing violence. This has to continue for many years so the people lose hope of ever achieving anything more than what is on offer.

This of course cannot be done without the approval of other countries. Israel has the approval of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States. In addition, because of her U.S. connections, she has managed to get a nod and a wink from the Europeans as well. So with this carte blanche in hand she has set forth to change the “reality” on the ground in her favor.

By systematically settling extremists in the middle of populated Palestinian areas, she has made the creation of a viable Palestinian state almost impossible. A simple look at the map of the Palestinian territories resembles a Swiss cheese, with pockets of densely populated Palestinian areas surrounded by settlements and their protective military garrisons.

The violence both official (state sponsored) and unofficial (settlers) has been incessant. Couple this violence with economic strangulation and you will see the reasons behind the Palestinians’ anger and frustration. Any resistance is automatically branded as an act of terrorism and punished with even more violence, with U.S. and Europeans cheering the Israelis on the side lines.

If you recall when Georgia invaded the Russian protected enclave of Abkhazia, and met Russian counter attack, the whole Western world with U.S. at its head condemned Russia. Pushing for UN action and even sending warships with “humanitarian” supplies. Russians did not commit one thousandth of the Israeli atrocities and we had the Georgian president and other politician talking day and night about the horrible things the Russians were doing.

Yet today we have U.S. and European governments sitting silently watching this genocide taking place without doing anything. U.S. even vetoes resolutions condemning Israeli actions, forgetting that no peace is ever made possible by killing so many innocent women and children.

But whenever a power tries to relocate a group of people by force, the Newton’s Third Law of Motion comes into effect. Newton’s Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that if you try to imprison a person that person will try to break out. If you try to subjugate a people they will resist. This is the underlying causes of most liberation movements. The same applies to the Palestinians. They are resisting. We can agree or disagree with their methods, but theirs is a reaction to actions taken against them; we call this self-defense.

Israel is trying to push Palestinians into submission and in the process forcing many to leave the occupied territories. They are trying to show the Palestinians that they are alone and resistance in the face of an overwhelming force is suicide. Israel has tried this tactics before and has failed. The children that had to stay with their dead mothers for four days will not forget. The starved people of Gaza are not going to forget this barbarity; and neither shall the people of honor and conscious, regardless of their nationality, Israelis included.

But as for one of those who have followed the Israel’s actions for the past 30 years, I can say that I didn’t expect anything different from Israel. The lies and deceits are all too familiar to fall for again. The current Israeli action in Gaza was not a reaction to the recent event, but planned a year ago. Just read the New York Times article in which among others they interview a senior Israeli military officer.

Israel is now trying to portray herself as a nation that is defending itself, while the truth is that Israel is a cruel occupying power trying to force a people out of their land. And this is being done with the help of some Arab nations; the very same nations that constantly talk about Arab and Muslim solidarity. These nations are: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

—— The Arab collaborators ———

The often asked question, when it comes to the Palestinians, is about the role of Arab countries in the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The people not familiar with the political landscape of the area often see the Middle East as two camps, Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other. The reality is totally different. Israel has seldom been alone. Beside its usual American, French, British and other staunch allies, she has had the hidden backing of several Arab countries.

For close to 30 years now, many Arab countries have been collaborating with Israel; some like Egypt (gained independence: 1922) and Jordan (gained independence: 1946) openly while others like Saudi Arabia (founded: 1932), UAE (founded: 1972) and Kuwait (founded: 1961) from behind the scenes.

The reasons for this collaboration vary from country to country but they all have one thing in common: the rulers of these countries are all dictators and need foreign protection from their own people. Some such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and UAE were put in power by the British. The founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (the kingdom is name after him) was put in power by the British. The same goes for the others, except Egypt which experienced a coup by the army officers in 1952 resulting in the ousting of the monarchy and the accompanying British influence.

But the Western influence returned with Anwar Sadat. All these countries are dictatorships and all are under pressure from their people. What they cannot accept is any democratically elected form of government in their mist. They fear that if an Arab government becomes democratic they may have to become one themselves, hence losing power.

One of the things that they love about Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is that he won the election not by popular vote but by popular method of rigging the election; something that these Arab leaders understand and respect.

In contrast Hamas really represented the aspiration of the people. Soon, Mahmood Abbas term as president is over and he had to stand for re-election something that he would surely lose. In contrast Hamas really won the municipal elections in 2005 and the Parliamentary election in 2006. The elections were supervised by international observers, many from Europe, and U.S.

Palestinians were fed-up with the corrupt regime of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah. They wanted to clean house. But as soon as Hamas took over, the U.S. and the Europeans put an embargo on Hamas. Israel closed the borders and refused to let anything into Gaza. Egypt also did the same.

What is not mentioned much in the media is that this was done with the complete approval of the Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. After all, Egypt could have opened its border for transfer of food and fuel.

Muslim Brotherhood has a branch or related organization in Jordan as well. Egypt and Jordan are worried that should Hamas survive and show its resistance, their people may get the idea that they can also resist the tyrannical rule of these despots. One must not forget that Muslim Brotherhood represents the only serious challenge to the Mubarak’s rule in Egypt.

—- Egypt ——-

The 81 year old Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been “president” since 1981 (28 years). He has won every election with a comfortable majority. He is much loved by his secret services. Prior to every election he arrests and imprisons all the opposition, ensuring a “clean” election.

Torture is so widely used and accepted in Egypt that U.S. out sources torturing of some its prisoners to Egypt. This alone should tell you volumes about the nature of Mubarak’s rule. He is now trying hard to crown his playboy son as his successor. But the Americans are not so sure if the son is capable of keeping the 80 million Egyptians in line and is therefore looking for alternative candidates.

The head of the feared main secret service is one of the prime candidates along with some of the top generals. Challenging him is the Muslim Brotherhood organization, enjoying grass root support from all sections of the Egyptian society including lawyers, doctors, judges and student associations. Not surprisingly, U.S. and Israel call Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

By all accounts, the Muslim Brotherhood be it in Jordan, Egypt or the occupied territories such as Gaza runs a clean operation, running many charity organizations and providing services to the poor and the needy. As such wherever they are, they pose a threat to the corrupt regimes, since they provide an alternative to the people of that area.

—– Jordan——

King Abdullah II of Jordan, born of a British mother, educated in the West, including the Jesuit Center of Georgetown University, was brought to power by the CIA. His Uncle was a long time crown prince, yet after his father died in a U.S. hospital, Madeline Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of Estate flew to Jordan to inform the Jordanians that the King on his death bed had changed his will and named his son Abdullah as his successor.

The majority of this Kingdom of 5 million people are Palestinians who are not very friendly to this King. In 1971 there was a Palestinian uprising (led by PLO) against King Hussein (ruled: 1952-1999, the father of the current king), which resulted in heavy casualties among Palestinians.

In addition, the Kingdom is currently full of Iraqi refugees who resent the King’s help to the Americans in invasion of their country. On top of all this, we have the Muslim Brotherhood which tries hard to abolish the monarchy. King Abdullah relies heavily on the U.S. support and backing for staying in power. King Abdullah also sees a natural ally in Israel, a country that can come to its aid in case of another uprising.

—Saudi Arabia (House of Saud)——

I don’t have to tell you much about Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is run by the 84 year old, ailing Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. His personal wealth is estimated at $21 billion USD. He rules a clan of 8000 princes who in turn rule the country. Saudi Arabia is the centre of corruption in the Arab world. The Saudi rulers corrupt everything with their money. Lacking the necessary mental power or physical courage, they try to stay in power by subterfuge, lies, and deception.

They fund the real extremists on the one hand while portraying themselves as the protectors of the Western interest on the other. They preach intolerance and xenophobia to their people decrying the Western decadence, while spending a lot of time enjoying the life in the West. They pay the West for protection against their own people and they pay the extremists to do their fighting elsewhere. Saudi rulers are indeed the worst of them all.

House of Saud is also the financier of the so called “Arab Moderates” and extremism that they cause. House of Saud financed the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. They later financed the Taliban. They also paid the Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. Then they paid the Americans and Egyptians to fight Saddam Hussein. They are the financiers of death and misery. They finance anything, anywhere, as long as this reduces the threat to their illegitimate rule.

They are currently financing the civil war in Somalia, bandits in Baluchistan and God knows what else. They are detested by their own people and neighbors yet loved by Bush, Cheney and the oil companies. As long as they provide the money and oil the U.S. is willing to tolerate them. And guess what? Muslim Brotherhood hates the House of Saud too. This makes them a threat and hence has to be dealt with.

—- The Collaboration ——-

As can be seen each country has a good reason to eliminate Hamas, but each is restrained by its population. Israel has no such a restrain imposed on it. She not only can wage a terrible war, but also get assistance from Arab countries. Indeed it is the second time (the first was the Lebanon invasion of 2006) that Israel is getting open and solid support from these Arab countries. The invasion of Gaza was discussed in Egypt before its implementation. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are Israel’s active partners.

Egypt is actively involved in stopping all aids from getting to Palestinians in Gaza save a token few trucks. These few trucks are allowed to go through so they can be filmed and shown to Egyptian people. All demonstrations are banned and all Egyptian volunteers for Gaza are either arrested or sent back.

There are hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the Muslim world that are willing to go to the aid of the Palestinians, but the Egyptian authorities don’t allow them passage. Egyptians even stop medical aid from passing through their territories.

This is part of a report from Associated Press:

“RAFAH, Egypt: Frustration is mounting at Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, where many local and foreign doctors are stuck after Egyptian authorities denied them entry into the coastal area now under an Israeli ground invasion.

Anesthesiologist Dimitrios Mognie from Greece idles his time at a cafe near the border, drinking tea and chatting with other doctors, aid workers and curious Egyptians.

“”This is a shame,”” said Mognie, who decided to use his vacation time to try help Gazans. He thought entering through Egypt, which has a narrow border with the Hamas-ruled strip, was his best bet.

“”That in 2009 they have people in need of help from a doctor and we can go to help and they won’t let us. This is crazy,”” he added.”

In addition there are many Iranian cargo planes full of food and medicine which have been sitting on the tarmacs in Egypt for days waiting for permission to deliver their cargo. Egyptians even denied the medical aid sent by the son of the Libyan President Qaddafi to land in Egypt.

One thing is clear: these three countries do not want the Israelis to fail in their mission of totally destroying Gaza. Hosni Mubarak said so himself. The daily Haaretz reported that Hosni Mubarak had told European ministers on a peace mission that Hamas must not be allowed to win the ongoing war in Gaza.

As Egypt physically aids the Israeli military by denying food, fuel and medicine to the civilians, The House of Saud helps Israel by giving her time and diplomatic cover. When Israel started its invasion there was an immediate call for an Arab summit. Saudi Arabia and Jordan (along with Egypt of course) delayed the summit.

The Saudis along with the UAE said that they had another meeting to attend to and therefore Palestinian issue had to wait. After a few days when the summit was eventually held, they issued the same old statements. Yet this time same as the Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, they blamed the victims.

In a statement Saudi Arabia blamed Hamas for Israel’s continuing offensive in the Gaza Strip. Saudi Arabia, after blaming Hamas, declared that it will not even consider an oil embargo on Israel’s supporters. She then again blamed Hamas.

By this time, the three Arab countries along with Kuwait and UAE began singing the old song: international community is not doing anything about the catastrophe that is taking place in Gaza. It seems that these Arab tyrants have no shame at all. This reminds me of a quote from Marquis De Sade (1740-1814): “One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush.”

These Arab leaders (many are indeed too old to blush) are complicit in the murder of so many civilians, especially young children. According to Agence France-Presse, quoting the medics on the ground, fully one third of all people killed have been children. How can these Arab leaders justify this to their people?

The answer is that they cannot. Israel knows this and for the second time can show the Arab street that their leaders are nothing but a bunch of old hypocrites. These Arab leaders are now exposed and can do nothing but to cooperate fully with Israel and U.S. What stand between them and their people’s rage is their army and secret services; which in turn are supported by U.S.

Israel has cleverly exposed these leaders for what they are: collaborators of the worst kind. These Arab leaders have brought an unimaginable shame to their people. To quote Lucien Bouchard: “I have never known a more vulgar expression of betrayal and deceit. Our hope is now with the people of these countries to clean this stain from their honor.”

Israel’s War Crimes

December 30, 2008

By Richard Falk

The Nation, December 29, 2008

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Editor’s Note: This statement was issued December 27 in response to Israel’s attack in Gaza by Professor Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories and a longtime member of The Nation‘s editorial board.

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

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Those violations include:
Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel’s escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year.

Israel has also ignored recent Hamas diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on 26 December.

The Israeli airstrikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

I remind all Member States of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law–regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

About Richard Falk

Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law and practice at Princeton University, is the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur in the Occupied Territories and a member of The Nation editorial board. He is the author of many books, including The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order After Iraq. more…

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Richard Falk: My expulsion from Israel

December 21, 2008

When I arrived in Israel as a UN representative I knew there might be problems at the airport. And there were

On December 14, I arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel to carry out my UN role as special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories.

I was leading a mission that had intended to visit the West Bank and Gaza to prepare a report on Israel’s compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law. Meetings had been scheduled on an hourly basis during the six days, starting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, the following day.

I knew that there might be problems at the airport. Israel had strongly opposed my appointment a few months earlier and its foreign ministry had issued a statement that it would bar my entry if I came to Israel in my capacity as a UN representative.

At the same time, I would not have made the long journey from California, where I live, had I not been reasonably optimistic about my chances of getting in. Israel was informed that I would lead the mission and given a copy of my itinerary, and issued visas to the two people assisting me: a staff security person and an assistant, both of whom work at the office of the high commissioner of human rights in Geneva.

To avoid an incident at the airport, Israel could have either refused to grant visas or communicated to the UN that I would not be allowed to enter, but neither step was taken. It seemed that Israel wanted to teach me, and more significantly, the UN a lesson: there will be no cooperation with those who make strong criticisms of Israel’s occupation policy.

After being denied entry, I was put in a holding room with about 20 others experiencing entry problems. At this point, I was treated not as a UN representative, but as some sort of security threat, subjected to an inch-by-inch body search and the most meticulous luggage inspection I have ever witnessed.

I was separated from my two UN companions who were allowed to enter Israel and taken to the airport detention facility a mile or so away. I was required to put all my bags and cell phone in a room and taken to a locked tiny room that smelled of urine and filth. It contained five other detainees and was an unwelcome invitation to claustrophobia. I spent the next 15 hours so confined, which amounted to a cram course on the miseries of prison life, including dirty sheets, inedible food and lights that were too bright or darkness controlled from the guard office.

Of course, my disappointment and harsh confinement were trivial matters, not by themselves worthy of notice, given the sorts of serious hardships that millions around the world daily endure. Their importance is largely symbolic. I am an individual who had done nothing wrong beyond express strong disapproval of policies of a sovereign state. More importantly, the obvious intention was to humble me as a UN representative and thereby send a message of defiance to the United Nations.

Israel had all along accused me of bias and of making inflammatory charges relating to the occupation of Palestinian territories. I deny that I am biased, but rather insist that I have tried to be truthful in assessing the facts and relevant law. It is the character of the occupation that gives rise to sharp criticism of Israel’s approach, especially its harsh blockade of Gaza, resulting in the collective punishment of the 1.5 million inhabitants. By attacking the observer rather than what is observed, Israel plays a clever mind game. It directs attention away from the realities of the occupation, practising effectively a politics of distraction.

The blockade of Gaza serves no legitimate Israeli function. It is supposedly imposed in retaliation for some Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets that have been fired across the border at the Israeli town of Sderot. The wrongfulness of firing such rockets is unquestionable, yet this in no way justifies indiscriminate Israeli retaliation against the entire civilian population of Gaza.

The purpose of my reports is to document on behalf of the UN the urgency of the situation in Gaza and elsewhere in occupied Palestine. Such work is particularly important now as there are signs of a renewed escalation of violence and even of a threatened Israeli reoccupation.

Before such a catastrophe happens, it is important to make the situation as transparent as possible, and that is what I had hoped to do in carrying out my mission. Although denied entry, my effort will continue to use all available means to document the realities of the Israeli occupation as truthfully as possible.

• Richard Falk is professor of international law at Princeton University and the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories

Israel’s Settlement on Capitol Hill

November 29, 2008

Robert Weitzel | November 28, 2008

“With [traditional Israeli defense strategists] it’s all about tanks and land and controlling territories . . . and this hilltop and that hilltop. All these things are worthless.” -Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert-

Soon after the sand settled following the Six Day War in 1967, Jewish settlements began dotting the hills in the occupied territories. These settlements are typically located on the high ground to better control the surrounding landscape. Today there are 127 Jewish settlements with a population exceeding 468,000 in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and in the suburbs of East Jerusalem—the last of nearly 8,000 settlers were removed from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

According to a recent Amnesty International report, “In the first six months of 2008 Israel has expanded settlements in the West Bank/East Jerusalem at a faster rate than in the previous seven years.”

Unbeknownst to most Americans, Israel’s westernmost settlement is not located in Palestine-Israel, but is 6000 miles away on the high ground overlooking Foggy Bottom in Washington D.C.

This Capital Hill settlement of pro-Israel lobbies and think tanks strategically controls the high ground overlooking the United States’ Middle East policy landscape by having made kibbutzniks of most members of the executive and legislative branches of the government—including President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden (a wannabe Zionist), and future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (a born Zionist).

While Israel’s hilltop settlements in the occupied territories—violating over 30 UN Security Council resolutions since 1968—are “facts on the ground” that make the two state peace solution unlikely, their hilltop settlement in the center of the world’s only superpower makes it equally unlikely that Israel’s right-wing government will feel compelled to end their “self defensive” brutalization of the Palestinian people, which has been condemned by the international community (UN, EU) as crimes against humanity.

John Holmes, UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that Israel’s blockade of vital supplies to the Gaza Strip in retaliation for rocket attacks “amounts to collective punishment and is contrary to international humanitarian law.”

Collective punishment is forbidden by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states, “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed.” A “protected person” is someone who is under the control of an “Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.” Only the most ideologically blinkered individual would fail to recognize the Gaza Strip as occupied territory.

Israel’s current blockade of Gaza, which began on November 4, is resulting in what the UN Relief and Works Agency is calling a humanitarian catastrophe. Before the blockade, 1000 truckloads of food, fuel and essential supplies per day were necessary to sustain the 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned behind the concrete and barbed wire of the 25-mile long border. Eighty percent of Gazans live on two dollars a day and depend on international aid to survive. Since the border crossings were sealed, less than 100 truckloads have been permitted through.

The imprisoned Palestinians—50 percent of whom are younger than 15—are slowly starving. They lack the fuel to generate electricity for lighting, water purification, and sewage treatment. The erratic, intermittent electrical power puts the lives of patients in intensive care wards and those who are connected to live-sustaining equipment in grave peril. The lack of basic medicines such as antibiotics and insulin pose an equally fatal threat.

Twenty human rights organizations and all Israeli and international journalists have been barred from entering the Gaza Strip since the blockade began. A letter of protest signed by most major news organizations was sent to Prime Minister Olmert. Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror responded to the letter by saying that Israel was afraid journalists would inflate the Palestinians’ suffering. No one is allow to speak out on behalf of this beleaguered population.

President-elect Obama has been speaking out “swiftly and boldly” about the economic catastrophe threatening our 401Ks, but his silence regarding the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe threatening the lives of Palestinians is both deafening and telling of the price he’s willing to pay to maintain his status as kibbutznik-in-good-standing in Israel’s westernmost hilltop settlement.

Obama’s unconditional support for Israel’s policy of “self defense,” preemptive attacks, and repressive occupations is not one iota different from that of George W. Bush, an internationally recognized war criminal. This is not an encouraging beginning for a man whose battle cry was “change we can believe in.”

By any rational, humanitarian standard, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians amounts to collective punishment and crimes against humanity. Perpetrators of such crimes, whether they are individuals or governments or willing allies, are criminals who should one day sit in the dock of the International Court of Justice in The Hague—just as defendants sat in a Nuremberg court 60 years ago—and be held accountable for their crimes.

Until Israel’s hilltop settlement in our nation’s capital is dismantled, allowing for the possibility of a just and lasting peace in Palestine-Israel, its influence on both branches of our government and its insidious affect on US Middle East policy will continue to make willing—or unwitting—kibbutzniks of all Americans. We will be held as complicit, and as culpable, as the citizens of the country whose leaders sat in the dock at Nuremberg.

The world will ask, “Why didn’t you do something to stop it?” The majority of us will reply, “We didn’t know!”

Robert Weitzel is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience ( His essays regularly appear in The Capital Times in Madison, WI. He can be contacted at:

Deprivation and Desperation in Gaza

November 25, 2008

By JOE MOWREY | Counterpunch, Nov  24, 2008

As conditions in the Gaza strip approach a catastrophic level of deprivation, the world media, and in particular the U.S. media, remain largely silent. The United Nations, whose truckloads of food and medical supplies continue to be denied entry into Gaza by Israel, appears to be one of the few international voices of dissent concerning the collective punishment of 1.5 million human beings. This, despite the fact that more than 50% of the population in Gaza is comprised of children under the age of 15.

Israel claims to be defending itself against the crude, often homemade rockets which militant factions in Gaza fire randomly into southern Israel. Though it may be considered politically incorrect, this writer refuses to precede his remarks with the requisite, “It’s wrong for militant Palestinians to be firing rockets into Israel.” The ethics of Palestinian resistance to the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of the Palestinian people is a subject for another article. The issue at hand is one of collective punishment. Regardless of the actions of certain factions in Gaza, the fact remains that Israel (with the approval of the U.S.and the world community) is depriving an entire civilian population of food, medicine and clean drinking water in response to the violent actions of a few among that population. By any civilized standard this behavior is wrong and should be condemned vociferously. To paraphrase the words of an alien from another planet in a not-so-great Hollywood movie of some years ago, every sentient being knows the difference between right and wrong.

Apparently not. Israel’s Foreign Minister and likely future Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, recently dismissed the notion that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to collective punishment and claimed those actions were a justifiable response to the rocket attacks on Israel. She stated, “The international community must be more decisive in making itself heard and in using its influence in the face of these attacks.”

To suggest that the international community should condemn “these attacks” by militant Palestinian factions, yet ignore the humanitarian disaster being imposed on Gaza by the government of Israel demonstrates a nearly incomprehensible level of hypocrisy. But more importantly, the fact that Jews are the ones perpetrating these unconscionable actions in Gaza is a tragedy of historic proportions. The Geneva Conventions, particularly those articles addressing the  of civilian populations, were largely crafted in response to the treatment of Jews by the Nazis during World War II. Has the sense of exclusivity and entitlement created by the Zionist experiment in Israel become so great that people there no longer see themselves in the mirror of their own history? The irony of Jews, among the most egregiously persecuted and maligned people in history, denying food to hundreds of thousands of children in order, allegedly, to insure their own security, is breathtaking. Who could ever have imagined such a thing?

As people of Gaza suffer, here in the U.S., the vast majority of so-called progressives continue to revel in the recent election of the first Black man to the Presidency. While Obama has garnered a great deal of political and financial support by pledging his unconditional support for the Zionist regime in Israel, he remains completely silent on the plight of the children of Gaza. Our first Black President not only refuses to speak out against the collective punishment of an oppressed people, he actively supports and encourages the regime responsible for this behavior. This too is a tragedy of historic proportions. Have we come this far in the struggle against racism in our country only to see Barack Obama put a minority face on U.S. support for violations of international law and essential human dignity by Israel? Again, one has to say, who could ever have imagined such a thing?

Each morning I peruse the alternative media online and hope to see at least some minor degree of outrage at the situation in Gaza. A small but courageous handful of progressive web sites dare to criticize Israel and speak out against the abuse of the Palestinian people. But for the most part, the glorious and powerful “NetRoots” movement is too busy congratulating itself on the so-called victory it has achieved in the recent elections, too busy celebrating the illusion of change which Barack Obama represents, to admit the absence of any indication of substantive change in U.S. foreign policy in Palestine or the Middle East under his coming administration.

Does it ever occur to those who so blindly and passionately rallied ‘round their candidate for the Presidency that they might now use their voices to encourage him to oppose the human rights abuses being orchestrated in Gaza? The sad reality is, not even a chorus of such voices is likely to alter the course Obama appears to have taken. He has surrounded himself with a familiar cast of armchair militarists, corporatists and hard core pro-Zionist zealots who will continue to give their unconditional support to Israel regardless of what barbaric tactics the government there uses to advance the colonization of Palestine. He is choosing to turn his back on the men, women and children in Gaza and the West Bank who suffer chronic malnutrition, desperate poverty, dispossession and daily humiliation at the hands of the Israeli military.

We should stand up in opposition to instances of human rights abuses whenever and wherever they occur. The situation in Gaza is only one on an unfortunately long list, locally, nationally and internationally. And U.S. government (that means you and me) support for and complicity in many such instances is no secret. If each of us were to do just one thing per week to address these issues, the result might surprise us all. Take a minute out from the long and endless chatter of day to day living and speak to a friend about the idea of social equality. Write one letter to the editor of your local paper in support of human rights. Spend just one percent of your online hours learning the truth about our complicity as U.S. citizens in the exploitation and degradation of other people and their cultures. Turn off your television. Go stand on a corner with a sign to protest war. Wear a button promoting peace and justice. One small thing at a time.

To those who became politically active, possibly for the first time, and expended their valuable enthusiasm and energy in order to see Barack Obama elected: thank you for being a part of history. Now why not try on the mantel of social activism? Write our President-elect a letter and suggest that he at least acknowledge the suffering of the people in Gaza. It is doubtful it will change him or his policies, but it may change you. And that truly is “change we can believe in.”

Every sentient being knows the difference between right and wrong. The question is, why do so few of us act on that knowledge?

Joe Mowrey is an anti-war and Palestinian rights activist. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his spouse, Janice, and their three canine enablers. You can write to him at

Israel: Don’t Destroy Homes

August 12, 2008

Collective Punishment Violates International Law

Human Rights Watch

Jerusalem, August 10, 2008 – The Israeli government should reject plans to resume the demolition or confiscation of the homes of alleged terrorists, Human Rights Watch said today. These measures would violate international legal prohibitions against collective punishment, as they affect the owners or inhabitants of the homes who have no involvement in terrorism.

" Punishing people for the crimes of others is no solution to terrorism. Israel should focus on bringing to justice those who actually plan or carry out attacks. "
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

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The call follows an order issued on August 6, 2008, by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to demolish the home of Alaa Abu Dhein, a 26-year-old Palestinian who killed eight people during a gun attack on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem in March. The house concerned does not belong to Abu Dhein but is occupied and owned by his relatives. Barak’s order marks the resumption of demolitions of homes after a three-year lull and comes in the wake of two separate attacks in which Palestinian men used bulldozers to attack people in July on the streets of Jerusalem.

“The assault on Mercaz Harav seminary and the more recent bulldozer attacks were appalling, but Israel shouldn’t respond by trampling on basic rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The house demolition measures would violate international law because they punish people who are not even accused, let alone convicted, of a crime.”

Israel had abandoned the policy of house demolitions in 2005, when a panel of its own military experts rejected it, after concluding the policy was ineffective for tackling terrorism and possibly counterproductive. But there have been mounting calls by senior government officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to resume the practice after the bulldozer attacks, which killed three people and wounded scores more. There is no evidence that the men involved in either attack had ties to militant groups.

Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs military occupations, forbids the demolition of houses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories except where “absolutely necessary” for military operations. In addition, such demolitions punish family members and others living in the building solely for residing in the same home as an alleged terrorist. Under Israel’s policy, the fact that the owner of the building is neither the alleged terrorist nor related to him does not protect him from demolition of his property. Therefore such demolitions violate article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits punishing someone for an offense that he or she had not personally committed, and forbids collective penalties.

Continued . . .

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