Posts Tagged ‘Israeli military attack’

Rachel Corrie Continues Towards Gaza: Will Obama Let Israel Attack?

June 3, 2010

By Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy

The Hufington Post, June 1, 2010

How do you know when someone is serious about pursuing a strategy of nonviolent resistance until victory for justice is achieved?

When they refuse to turn back in the face of state violence. Damn the commandos. Full speed ahead.

The Irish Times reports:

The MV Rachel Corrie is ploughing ahead with its attempt to deliver aid to Gaza despite yesterday’s attack by the Israeli navy on Gaza-bound ship the Mavi Marmara.

The cargo ship, which has four Irish nationals and five Malaysians aboard, is due to arrive in Gazan waters tomorrow, a spokeswoman for the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said.

The vessel became separated from the main aid flotilla after being delayed for 48 hours in Cyprus due to logistical reasons.

Nobel laureate Maireád Corrigan-Maguire, former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday, and husband and wife Derek and Jenny Graham are the Irish nationals on board.

Speaking from the ship today, Mr Graham said the vessel was carrying educational materials, construction materials and some toys. “Everything aboard has been inspected in Ireland,” he said. “We would hope to have safe passage through.”

Might the Israeli military attack the Rachel Corrie, as the Israeli military attacked the Mavi Marmara? Would the Obama Administration permit such an Israeli attack on the Rachel Corrie, as the Obama Administration permitted the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara?

Note that in particular, under international law, an Israeli military attack on the Rachel Corrie in international waters would be an attack on the government and people of Ireland, because the Rachel Corrie is an Irish-flagged vessel. As former British Ambassador Craig Murray recently wrote:

To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

One presumes that Michael Higgins, the foreign affairs spokesman of the Irish Labour Party, is well aware of these considerations, and that his statement about Irish government policy noted in the Irish Times article should be read in this light:

Labour foreign affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins today called on the Government to demand safe passage for the MV Rachel Corrie.

In a statement, he said some of those on the vessel had contacted him earlier today and had stressed they wanted to avoid conflict and to be allowed unload their cargo to help the residents of the Gaza Strip.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs . . . must make it clear that any assault on the Rachel Corrie would be regarded as a hostile act against Ireland and a clear breach of international law that could not be ignored by this country,” Mr Higgins said.

In cities around the United States today, Americans will be protesting against the Israeli government attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. While protesting the attack on the Mavi Marmara, Americans should demand that the Obama Administration act to guarantee safe passage for the Rachel Corrie to reach Gaza.

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Israeli troops slaughter 19 aid activists to Gaza

May 31, 2010

Israeli commandoes have stormed a flotilla of ships carrying activists and aid supplies to the blockaded Palestinian enclave of Gaza, killing as many as 16 [latest number: 19] of those on board.

By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent and Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem
Telegraph/UK, May 31, 2010

Link to this video

Fighting broke out between the activists and the masked Israeli troops, who rappelled on to deck from helicopters before dawn.

A spokeswoman for the flotilla, Greta Berlin, said she had been told ten people had been killed and dozens wounded, accusing Israeli troops of indiscriminately shooting at “unarmed civilians”. But an Israeli radio station said that between 14 and 16 were dead in a continuing operation.

“How could the Israeli military attack civilians like this?” Ms Berlin said. “Do they think that because they can attack Palestinians indiscriminately they can attack anyone?

“We have two other boats. This is not going to stop us.”

The Israeli government’s handling of the confrontation was under intense international pressure even as it continued. The Israeli ambassador to Turkey, the base of one of the human rights organisation which organised the flotilla, was summoned by the foreign ministry in Anakara, as the Israeli consulate in Istanbul came under attack.

One Israeli minister issued immediate words of regret. “The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities,” Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the trade and industry minister, told army radio.

But he added that the commandoes had been attacked with batons and activists had sought to take their weapons off them.

Israeli military sources said four of its men had been injured, one stabbed, and that they had been shot at.

“The flotilla’s participants were not innocent and used violence against the soldiers. They were waiting for the forces’ arrival,” they were quoted by a news website as saying.

The flotilla had set sail on Sunday from northern, or Turkish, Cyprus. Six boats were led by the Mavi Marmara, which carried 600 activists from around the world, including Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Northern Ireland peace protester who won a Nobel Prize in 1976.

It came under almost immediate monitoring from Israeli drones and the navy, with two vessels flanking it in international waters. The flotilla, which had been warned that it would not be allowed to reach Gaza, attempted to slow and change course, hoping to prevent a confrontation until daylight, when the Israeli military action could be better filmed.

But in the early hours of this morning local time commandoes boarded from helicopters.

The activists were not carrying guns, but television footage shown by al-Jazeera and Turkish television channels show hand-to-hand fighting, with activists wearing life-jackets striking commandoes with sticks.

The Israeli army said its troops were assaulted with axes and knives.

The television footage did not show firing but shots could be heard in the background. One man was shown lying unconscious on the deck, while another man was helped away.

A woman wearing hijab, the Muslim headscarf, was seen carrying a stretcher covered in blood.

The al-Jazeera broadcast stopped with a voice shouting in Hebrew: “Everyone shut up”.

Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza after the strip was taken over by the militant group Hamas in 2007. It has allowed some food and medical supplies through, but has prevented large-scale rebuilding following the bombardment and invasion of 2008-9.

The flotilla is the latest in a series of attempts by activists to break through the blockade. The boats were carrying food and building supplies.

Activists said at least two of the other boats, one Greek and one Turkish, had been boarded from Israeli naval vessels. Activists said two of the other boats in the flotilla were American-flagged.

The confrontation took place in international waters 80 miles off the Gaza coast.

It was attacked by the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

“We call on the Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, to shoulder his responsibilities to protect the safety of the solidarity groups who were on board these ships and to secure their way to Gaza,” he said.

Turkish television meanwhile showed hundreds of protesters trying to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul. The incident will be particularly damaging for Israel’s relations with what had been seen as its closest ally in the Muslim world.

“By targeting civilians, Israel has once again shown its disregard for human life and peaceful initiatives,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said. “We strongly condemn these inhumane practices of Israel.

“This deplorable incident, which took place in open seas and constitutes a fragrant breach of international law, may lead to irreparable consequences in our bilateral relations.”

Paul Craig Roberts: America’s Shame

January 12, 2009


By Paul Craig Roberts | Information Clearing House, January 8, 2009

Why does Israel have a right to exist, but Palestine doesn’t?

This is the question of our time.

For sixty years Israelis have been stealing Palestine from Palestinians. There are maps available on the Internet and in Israeli publications showing the shrinkage over time of what was once Palestine into what Palestine is today–a small number of unconnected ghettos or bantustans.

Palestine became “the occupied territory” from which Palestinians were ejected and Israeli settlements built for “settlers.” Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are full of refugee camps in which Palestinians driven off their lands by Israeli force have been living for decades.

Driving people off their land is strictly illegal under international law, but Israel has been getting away with it for decades.

Gaza is a concentration camp of 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven from their homes and villages and collected in the Gaza Ghetto.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was created 60 years ago in
1949 to administer refugee camps for Palestinians driven from their lands by Israel. As of 2002, the registered Palestinian refugee population was 3.9 million.

Caterpillar Tractor makes a special bulldozer for Israel that is designed to knock down Palestinian homes and to uproot their orchards. In 2003 an American protester, Rachel Corrie, stood in front of one of these Caterpillars and was run over and crushed.

Nothing happened. The Israelis can kill whomever they want whenever they want.

They have been doing so for 60 years, and they show no sign of stopping.

Currently they are murdering women and children in the ghetto that they have created for Palestinians in Gaza. The entire world knows this. The Red Cross protests it. But the Israelis brazenly claim that they are killing “Hamas terrorists who are a threat to Israel’s existence.”

The American media knows that this is a lie, but does not say so.

Israel has been able to slowly exterminate a people for sixty years without provoking sufficient outrage to stop it.

The United States, “Christian America,” has been Israel’s greatest enabler in its long-term murder of the Palestinian people. Millions of “evangelical Christians” endorse Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The rest of the world condemns the Israeli military attack on the Gaza Ghetto. Last week the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli SS from Gaza.

The United States abstained.

While the rest of the world condemns Israel’s inhumanity, the US Congress–I should say the US Knesset–rushed to endorse the Israeli slaughter of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The US Senate endorsed Israel’s massacre of Palestinians with a vote of 100-0.

The US House of Representatives voted 430-5 to endorse Israel’s massacre of Palestinians.

The resolutions endorsed by 100% of the US Senate and 99% of the House were written by AIPAC, as were the speeches praising Israel for its inhumanity.

The US Congress was proud to show that it is Israel’s puppet even when it comes to murdering women and children.

The President of the United States was proud to block effective action by the UN Security Council by ordering the Secretary of State to abstain.

Be a Proud American. Swagger and strut. Pretend that you are not besmirched by the shame that your government has heaped upon you. Take refuge in your ignorance, fostered by 60 years of Israeli lies, that the murder of Palestinians and the theft of their lands is “Israel’s right of self-defense.”

US-MIDEAST: Media Eyeless in Gaza at Key Moment

January 9, 2009

By Jim Lobe and Ali Gharib | Inter Press Service


WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (IPS) – Consumed by coverage of the Nov. 4 presidential election, U.S. mainstream media ignored a key Israeli military attack on a Hamas target that some Palestinians claim marked the effective end of the ceasefire between the two sides and set the stage for the current round of bloodletting.

While the major U.S. news wire Associated Press (AP) reported that the attack, in which six members of Hamas’s military wing were killed by Israeli ground forces, threatened the ceasefire, its report was carried by only a handful of small newspapers around the country.

The Nov 4 raid — and the escalation that followed — also went unreported by the major U.S. network and cable television new programmes, according to a search of the Nexis database for all English-language news coverage between Nov. 4 and 7.

But the military action, which was followed up by an aerial attack that killed at least one other Palestinian, appears to have dealt a fatal blow to the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire that had taken effect Jun. 19 and largely held for some four and a half months.

In retaliation for the attack, Hamas launched some 35 Qassam rockets into Israeli territory Nov. 5 which, in turn, provoked Israel to severely tighten its then-17-month-old economic siege of the Palestinian territory.

“While neither side ever completely respected the ceasefire terms, the Israeli raid was far and away the biggest violation,” said Stephen Zunes, an expert on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the University of San Francisco.

“It was a huge, huge provocation, and it now appears to me that it was actually intended to get Hamas to break off the ceasefire,” he added.

When Israel launched its current military offensive against Hamas-controlled Gaza Dec. 27, most major U.S. media outlets — and particularly television and newspaper commentators — blamed Hamas for breaking the ceasefire by continuing rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli territory and refusing to extend the ceasefire on its current terms beyond its formal Dec. 19 expiration.

“Israel’s air offensive against the Gaza Strip yesterday should not have been a surprise for anyone who has been following the mounting hostilities in the region,” said the lead editorial in the Washington Post the day after Israel began its massive air assault, “least of all the Hamas movement, which invited the conflict by ending a six-month-old ceasefire and launching scores of rockets and mortar shells at Israel during the last 10 days.”

This explanation of events corresponded to a major Israeli public-relations effort that placed top government officials on U.S. network and cable news programmes. In an appearance on NBC’s widely viewed Sunday morning talk show ‘Meet the Press’, as the military offensive got underway, for example, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, also a candidate for prime minister in the Feb. 10 elections, set forth her government’s basic narrative.

“About a half a year ago, according to the Egyptian Initiative, we decided to enter a kind of a truce and not to attack Gaza Strip,” Livni said. “Hamas violated, on a daily basis, this truce. They targeted Israel, and we didn’t answer.”

But that narrative omitted any mention of the critical Nov. 4 raid, and no Palestinian guest, such as Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian lawmaker and human rights activist from Ramallah, appeared on the programme to rebut her claim.

In an interview on CNN two days later, on Dec. 31, however, Barghouti charged that Livni’s version of events was “incorrect”. He accused Israel of breaking the truce and pointed directly to the Nov. 4 operation in Gaza as the catalysing incident.

“Two months before (Dec. 19), Israel started attacking Rafah, started attacking Hamas…” he declared, adding that Israel’s failure to lift its commercial embargo against Gaza also violated the Palestinian understanding of the original truce terms.

Indeed, Barghouti’s focus on the Nov. 4 attack as the main cause of the ceasefire breakdown was implicitly supported by a lengthy report released the following day by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, a private Israeli group. It divided the ceasefire into a “period of relative quiet between June 19 and November 4”, when “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire,” and “the escalation and erosion of the …arrangement” which it dated to “November 4 (when) the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) carried out a military action close to the border security fence on the Gazan side…”

It further noted that Hamas began firing rockets and missile shells “in retaliation” to which Israel responded by closing its border crossings and sharply tightening its siege against Gaza. From that point, the ceasefire that had effectively held for the previous four and a half months was never fully restored.

That version of events was not entirely missing from the U.S. press. Indeed, a New York Times “analysis” published Dec. 19 acknowledged that “(w)hile this (escalation) did not topple the agreement, Israel’s decision in early November to destroy a tunnel Hamas had been digging near the border drove the cycle of violence to a much higher level.”

But the Times itself, like virtually all of the U.S. media, had missed the likely impact of the Nov. 4 attack on the ceasefire’s fate at or even shortly after it took place. In its late edition Nov. 5, the newspaper ran a 422-word article datelined Jerusalem that reported Israel’s military operation and the fact that Hamas had retaliated with mortar fire.

One day later, the Washington Post devoted a similar amount of space to a Reuters report whose headline suggested that the truce had been put at risk by the previous day’s exchanges.

But while the U.S. media, distracted by an historic election at home, largely skipped over the significance of the Nov. 4 Israeli raid, several English-language foreign news organisations did publish articles on the event, suggesting that the raid could very well have doomed the ceasefire.

A story in the British newspaper the Guardian on Nov. 6 said the truce was “in jeopardy” after the strike. Another British paper, the Independent, said on the same day that the ceasefire “was foundering yesterday after Israeli special forces entered the besieged territory and fought Hamas.”

A piece for the Canadian news service Canwest on Nov. 6 said that “the fragile peace [of the ceasefire] was shattered overnight by an Israeli raid in Gaza.” The Age newspaper of Australia also headlined its story on the raid itself as “Ceasefire in danger of collapse.”

AP’s Nov. 5 and 6 stories used similar wording in its stories, but they went largely unpublished in the U.S. where media attention was focused virtually exclusively on the historic election results.

The Nexis search found no reference to the raid in the transcripts of any television public-affairs broadcast during the period, a particularly significant omission given the fact that about 70 percent of U.S. citizens say their main source of international news comes through that medium.

“(T)hat Nov. 4 raid, in very real sense, hardly exists in the mainstream media’s collective memory,” said Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)’s activism director Peter Hart, noting that Israel may have been aware that the election would drown out coverage of its raid.

“It does not take much effort to go back and find it, but reporting contextual information that would undermine Israel’s rationale for these attacks is not exactly the kind of thing the U.S. corporate media do very often. The fact that there are only a handful of exceptions is telling — the dominant narrative in the press is unsurprisingly one that supports the Israeli position.”


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