Posts Tagged ‘Palestinians killed’

Who is Killing Whom? Pounding Gaza

March 24, 2010

Sonja Karkar, Counterpunch, March 23, 2010

One man dead in Israel and the whole world knows.  He actually was not Israeli, but an unfortunate immigrant worker from Thailand.  We have been told who killed him too: not by name, but by some shadowy nom de guerre, used by jihadist groups some claim to be loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and elsewhere. The unknown group in Gaza, Ansar al-Sunna, claimed responsibility for the rocket fired into Israel that caused the man’s death by shrapnel.

The Hamas government has had its own problems with such groups, which have challenged its rule in Gaza. But, that is neither here nor there for Israel.

Israel has already said that its response will be strong.  And sure enough, Israeli bombers have pounded the southern-most part of Gaza, so far killing and wounding some fourteen Palestinian civilians including children, three of them critically.

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Israel and Egypt continue to Squeeze the Lifeblood out of the People of Gaza

January 17, 2010

Israeli Airstrikes and Tank Shelling and Egyptian Underground Walls and Maritime Blockade

by Ann Wright, CommonDreams.org, January 17, 2010

Two weeks ago, almost 2,000 internationals came to Egypt and Gaza in a massive show of civil society support for the people of Gaza.  1,362 persons representing 44 countries in the Gaza Freedom March and over 500 persons with the Viva Palestina Convoy let the people of Gaza know of their concern for the tragic consequences of the actions of their governments in support of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Yet, two weeks later, with the apparent approval of governments (United States, European Community and Canada) who support the quarantine, blockade and siege of Gaza, Israel and Egypt have tightened the squeeze to wring the lifeblood out of the people of Gaza.

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Corporate American Media and Israel’s 2008-09 Gaza Invasion

December 15, 2009

by Steven Salaita, Dissident Voice,  December 14th, 2009

The following piece is an excerpt from a talk Salaita gave at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, on December 7, 2009.

I’m starting on the assumption that we’re all aware of Israel’s brutality in the Gaza Strip and that we all find it unconscionable, as does the vast majority of the world. I assume as well that we’re aware of the brutality preceding and following Israel’s military assault nearly a year ago. I’d like to examine how corporate media in the United States presented coverage of Israel’s invasion, and how discourses of justification for Israel are built into the foundation of that coverage.

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US House rejects Goldstone report

November 4, 2009
Al Jazeera, Nov 4, 2009
The Goldstone report alleges that Israel used disproportionate force in its war on Gaza [Reuters]

The US House of Representatives has rejected as “irredeemably biased” the findings of a UN-sponsored report which says Israel committed war crimes during its military assault on the Gaza Strip.

The house on Tuesday voted 344 to 36 in favour of a non-binding resolution calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to maintain his opposition to the report, which was written by a panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge.

The report accused Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group, which has de facto control of Gaza, of war crimes during the 22-day conflict in December and January.

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UN: Israel had ‘impunity’ in Gaza

August 15, 2009
Al Jazeera, Aug 15, 2009

The report said that Israel’s military justice system did not meet international standards [AFP]

The senior human rights official at the United Nations has said that the Israeli military acted with “near impunity” during its late-December to mid-January offensive on the Gaza Strip, violating international law.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a report on Friday that evidence collected on the Gaza war had pointed to human rights abuses by Israel.

She said that a grave humanitarian situation in Gaza before the Israeli invasion was exacerbated by Operation Cast Lead, a military campaign that had the stated aim of preventing Palestinian rocket squads from firing missiles into Israel.

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Israel scuppers UN war crimes probe

June 10, 2009

Morning Star Online, Tuesday 09 June 2009

Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza, most of them civilians

Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza, most of them civilians

The UN war crimes probe into Israel’s assault on Gaza is likely to be scuppered by Tel Aviv’s refusal to co-operate, the chief investigator has admitted.

Judge Richard Goldstone (pictured), who led a UN fact-finding team to Israel and Gaza, said the investigation was unlikely to lead to prosecutions.

Israel has refused to co-operate, depriving Mr Goldstone’s team of access to military sources.

The chief barrier remains the lack of a court with clear jurisdiction to hear any resulting cases stemming from the investigation into Israel’s bloody three-week onslaught on Gaza which ended in January.

And Hamas security often accompanied his team during last week’s trip to Gaza, raising questions about witnesses’ ability to testify freely, Mr Goldstone said.

“From a practical political point of view, I wish I could be optimistic,” he said.

Nevertheless, he hoped that his group’s report, due in September, will spur action by other UN bodies and foreign governments.

Mr Goldstone, a South African judge involved in the war crimes trials regarding the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and who was involved in the settlement to end apartheid, refused to comment on the investigation’s content.

But Gazans who had spoken to the team revealed some of their accusations.

Majed Hajjaj said that he had watched Israeli soldiers shoot his mother and sister dead as they fled their home waving white flags.

But he said: “The committee was just like all the others who have come. There are lots of reports written but they’re nothing more than ink on paper.”

The UN team also visited a mosque which witnesses said had been hit by an Israeli missile, killing 16.

Palestinian human rights groups say that more than 1,400 Gazans were killed in the Israeli assault, most of them civilians.

Thirteen Israelis were killed, three of them civilians.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel had made a “clear decision” not to co-operate with Mr Goldstone’s team, alleging anti-Israeli bias by the probe’s sponsor the UN Human Rights Council.

Tel Aviv’s stance meant that Mr Goldstone – who is Jewish and has close ties to Israel – had to enter Gaza via Egypt.

Rethinking the Costs of Peace

May 25, 2009
The US has provided to Israel more than $100 billion in military and economic assistance.

By Josh Ruebner | The Palestine Chronicle, May 24, 2009

In pledging to trim ineffective spending, President Obama declared that “there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.”

By asking earlier this month for $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel in his FY2010 budget request, it would seem that on this important policy issue President Obama’s commitment is more rhetorical than substantive. Since 1949, according to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided to Israel more than $100 billion in military and economic assistance. In 2007, the United States and Israel signed an agreement for $30 billion in additional military aid through FY2018.

Yet the provision of U.S. weapons to Israel at taxpayer expense has done nothing to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to achieving a just and lasting peace. Rather, these weapons have had the exact opposite effect, as documented recently by Amnesty International, which pointed to U.S. weapons as a prime factor “fueling” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, during the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinian civilians, including more than 1,000 children. During its December 2008-January 2009 war on the occupied Gaza Strip alone, Israel killed nearly 1,200 non-combatants.

On average, for each day that President Bush sat in the Oval Office, Israel killed one Palestinian civilian, often with U.S. weapons. Before Congress appropriates any additional military aid to Israel, it should insist upon President Obama providing a comprehensive and transparent review of the effects U.S. weapons transfers to Israel have on Palestinian civilians. The Arms Export Control Act limits the use of U.S. weapons given to a foreign country to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense.”

If, after reviewing the impact of Israel’s misuse of U.S. weapons, the President and Congress cannot find the political will to sanction Israel for its violations of the Arms Export Control Act and prohibit future arms transfers as is required by law, then there are still steps that the U.S. government should take to ensure that any future transfers are not used to commit human rights abuses but instead to promote U.S. policy goals. For example, previous U.S. loan guarantees to Israel have stipulated that funds cannot be used to support Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Conditioning U.S. military aid to Israel in the same way would prevent these weapons from being used to kill innocent Palestinian civilians.

As President Obama has stated, “We can’t sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars, on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups. We simply can’t afford it.” In regard to U.S. aid to Israel, this is true as much from a budgetary standpoint as it is from a moral one.

– Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com. (Originally published in the Detroit Free Press, May 21, 2009)

American Jewish groups must speak up over Gaza

April 20, 2009

It is a sensitive subject, but the movement for Gaza accountability needs full Jewish participation

Richard Silverstein

guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 April 2009 09.00 BS

    When Israeli forces left Gaza in January, they left behind 1,400 Palestinian dead, 4,000 homes destroyed, universities and government buildings flattened, and tens of thousands homeless. The Israeli and world press documented IDF atrocities including the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated urban areas, the assault on United Nations humanitarian facilities, the shelling of civilian homes, and the shooting in cold blood of unarmed civilians.

    Israeli human rights groups have called for war crimes investigations of IDF actions. In the last few weeks, on-the-ground reports supported by eyewitness testimony have become available. They paint an even more damning picture. The attacks on UN facilities spurred the Palestinian Authority to call for a security council investigation. Officials announced they are investigating whether the international body has jurisdiction, but it seems likely that US opposition will doom such an avenue of redress.

    The UN human rights council has just appointed a distinguished jurist, Richard Goldstone, to head an investigation of both IDF and Palestinian actions in Gaza. The council made a wise choice in Goldstone, who served as chief prosecutor of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda: he has an impeccable record in his field and can be expected to issue a fair, balanced and thorough report.

    Last week, Judge Balthazar Garzon announced the investigation of six Bush-era officials for devising a scheme that justified torture of terror suspects. With this development, it became clear there was a new method to hold violators accountable for their alleged crimes, and I am certain activists are already preparing dossiers for submission. Earlier this month, an international assemblage of individuals announced the formation of the Russell tribunal on Palestine. Modelled on the Russell tribunal on war crimes in Vietnam, and named after philosopher and peace campaigner Bertrand Russell, it aims to bring to bear international law as a force for adjudicating and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tribunal will hear a legal case prepared by volunteer experts from around the world. A jury of respected individuals will hear evidence from both sides and announce its finding of guilt or innocence to the world.

    There is one important consideration that should encourage Israel to participate. If it truly believes Palestinian rocket attacks constitute war crimes, then it should vigorously make this point. The tribunal has already taken pains to point out that this is a part of its mandate: “Do the means of resistance used by the Palestinians violate international law?” However, I would imagine that Israel will not participate.

    While Israel’s savage assault against Hezbollah in Lebanon during the 2006 war generated an uproar, one wonders whether the massacres that occurred in Gaza crossed a moral threshhold. Can an effort to end Israeli impunity have real impact, both in terms of influencing world opinion and of impacting on Israeli behaviour? Israel has become an expert at wearing down its opponents, honing such skills during 40 years of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The question is: what, if anything, can the peace community do differently this time?

    Each time the world witnesses another humanitarian tragedy resulting from Israeli military action, the outcry is louder. For example, the UN has never before entertained the possibility of investigating Israeli war crimes. The EU has informally made known that it intends to freeze a planned upgrade in relations with Israel and cancel of visit of Israel’s prime minister as an indirect result. American universities such as Hampshire College and church denominations such as the Presbyterians contemplate ever more seriously the issue of divestment. Gaza crossed a red line. Now, new methods of protest and new means of ensuring accountability must be devised.

    Horrors such as the Gaza war also breathe new life into movements like the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions initiative. Recently, Naomi Klein and Rabbi Arthur Waskow engaged in a provocative debate at In These Times about BDS. The Gaza war made Klein a believer. Recently, Rabbi Brant Rosen wrote words that many in the American Jewish community might find heretical, that BDS could be a legitimate expression “of a weaker, dispossessed, disempowered people”.

    There can be no doubt that horrors such as Gaza serve as moral ice-breakers in the psyche of diaspora Jews. Ideas that hitherto might have been taboo or “anti-Israel” become suddenly legitimate. As Israel drifts farther to the right, American Jews are challenged to respond morally. In this context, the forbidden becomes acceptable. Boycotts, divestment, sactions and war crimes investigations now appear tools through which to try to draw Israel back from the brink.

    No major American-Jewish peace group has called for a Gaza war crimes investigation. It is a sensitive subject among diaspora Jews. But if Israeli human rights organisations can make such a call, there is no reason why Americans should be afraid to do so. The movement for Gaza accountability needs full Jewish participation.

    My motivation in writing this is not to avenge the deaths of innocent Palestinians. Nor is it for pure justice. It is rather to bring Israel back from the brink. Like one of the slogans of the Israeli military during the Gaza war – “baal habayit hishtageya” (“the boss has lost it”) – Israel’s policy has verged on madness. Nor has it achieved its objective of pacifying Gaza or toppling Hamas. And isn’t one of the definitions of madness to repeat a behaviour even after it has failed, with the conviction that it will succeed the next time? When you see a loved one or family member descending into self-destruction, you reach out and help. My goal is to turn Israel away from the path of madness.

    MIDEAST: Gaza Changed Everything, But Its People Still Suffer

    April 18, 2009

    Analysis by Helena Cobban* | Inter Press Service News

    WASHINGTON, Apr 17 (IPS) – Three months after the end of
    Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, and nearly four months after former prime minister Ehud Olmert started it, the standoff between Israel and Hamas is as unresolved as ever.

    Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, nearly all of them civilians, are still in a very tough situation, since Israel still prohibits the shipment into Gaza of many requirements for a decent life – including the building materials needed to repair or rebuild the thousands of homes and other structures the Israeli military destroyed during the war.

    But it is already clear that the war has changed many aspects of the complex political dynamics both between and inside the Israeli and Palestinian communities.

    Hamas, simply by surviving, has become stronger both within Palestinian politics and throughout the broader Middle East.

    In the Israeli elections of early February Olmert’s party was defeated – by representatives of an even more militarist trend in Israel whose rise was fueled, in good part, by the war-fever unleashed among Jewish Israelis by Olmert’s own war.

    Meanwhile, the ferocity with which Israel fought the war caused significant damage to the country’s image around the world. In the U.S., unprecedented numbers of civil society groups – including Jewish groups – expressed open criticism of Olmert’s decision to launch the war, even from the war’s very earliest days.

    All these developments have been evident during Sen. George Mitchell’s latest visit to the region, which started Wednesday. This was Mitchell’s third visit since he was named U.S. special envoy on Jan. 21. Some of the post-Gaza developments seem to make Mitchell’s peacemaking effort harder. But others, especially the new estrangement between the government of Israel and some of its former strong supporters around the world, open up new possibilities for his mission.

    Indeed, in some of Mitchell’s early appearances on his latest trip, he has shown himself more ready than any U.S. official has been for many years to publicly adopt a position – in this case, support of an independent Palestinian state – that is very different from that espoused by the government in power in Israel.

    When Olmert launched the war on Gaza on Dec. 27, he was aiming either to destroy Hamas or to inflict so much harm on it that its leaders would bow to Israel’s political demands. Despite the large amount of damage the Israeli military inflicted on the people of Gaza, it did not achieve either of those objectives. Hamas’s long battle-hardened command structure in Gaza remained intact and in place.

    (Hamas’s broader, ‘nationwide’ leadership has anyway been located for many years now outside the occupied territories. Thus, the idea of breaking or ‘taming’ the whole organisation by delivering a knockout blow to its units in Gaza was always poorly thought through.)

    Instead of being broken, Hamas found that during the war its popularity rose throughout the occupied West Bank and among the five million Palestinians living in exile outside their homeland. It dipped somewhat in Gaza, doubtless because of the punishment the IDF was inflicting on the Strip’s people. But Gaza is roughly half the size of the West Bank. The overall effect was that Hamas became stronger.

    Fatah, a movement that in recent years has aligned itself ever more closely to U.S. policies, meanwhile saw its popularity decline.

    Indeed, the collapse of Fatah’s internal decision-making structures is now so severe there is a real possibility it might disintegrate altogether. Though the collapse has been underway for some time now, the Gaza war certainly hastened it along.

    Fateh has also, ever since 1969, been overwhelmingly the strongest component of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), the secularist body that has authorised all Palestinian peace efforts with Israel to date. Fatah’s decline thus also threatens the survival of the PLO – unless the on-again-off-again ‘unity talks’ that Fatah and Hamas have been pursuing in Cairo can find a formula to bring Hamas into the PLO for the first time ever.

    Amid all these political developments, Gaza’s 1.5 million people are still trying to deal with life-situations and livelihoods that were shattered by the recent war. During the war more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. Ten Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians lost their lives.

    For three years prior to the war, there had been intermittent exchanges of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants – mainly Hamas people – operating from Gaza. In addition, Israel maintained a tight siege around Gaza, in clear contravention of its responsibility as “occupying power” to safeguard the welfare of the Strip’s indigenous residents.

    At the end of the war both Israel and Hamas announced parallel (and un-negotiated) ceasefires. That was on Jan. 18. In the absence of any more formal, negotiated ceasefire agreement, the existing ceasefires have remained fragile, and several exchanges of fire have occurred.

    But in addition, Israel has considerably tightened the physical siege of Gaza – and this, at a time when the Strip’s residents have extraordinary needs to gain access to the materials they urgently need to rebuild the 5,000 homes and other structures that were destroyed during the war. Those structures included vital water and sanitation facilities, factories, warehouses – and even the parliament.

    John Prideaux-Brune, Oxfam’s country director for the West Bank and Gaza, has described Israel’s policy toward Gaza as being one of “intentionally inflicted de-development.”

    He told IPS recently, “Israel went on a rampage in Gaza during the war. You can see whole villages flattened, the cows and other livestock killed. They seem to have gone in and removed anything that could have been used for economic development – farms, factories, you name it.” (Israeli sources have said that during the war, the military trucked in 100 heavy-duty bulldozers, especially to undertake this destruction.)

    “It seems a mind-numbingly stupid thing for Israel to do,” Prideaux-Brune said. “Where states have succeeded in suppressing terrorism, they have done so through negotiations and fostering economic development.”

    He said he hoped western governments would act quickly to persuade Israel to lift the siege. That, he said, would allow Gaza’s people to move back onto a path of economic development rather than continuing to live on handouts.

    Many of the humanitarian aid organisations that have been providing ‘emergency’ aid to Gaza (and the West Bank) for many years are now, like Oxfam, becoming more vocal in arguing that the only thing that can really stabilise the very vulnerable situation of the Palestinians of these occupied areas is to find a speedy end to the Israel’s military occupation of their home territories.

    Prideaux-Brune said that the Gaza Palestinians are currently suffering from a deliberately inflicted “dignity crisis.”

    “So long as Israel controls everything in these people’s lives, they will remain vulnerable,” he said. “Emergency relief aid is no substitute for successful peacemaking, and that is the only way to get to real economic development.”

    *Helena Cobban is a veteran Middle East analyst and author. She blogs at http://www.JustWorldNews.org.

    Richard Falk: Israel’s War Crimes

    March 13, 2009

    Calls for investigation into Gaza attacks

    Richard Falk | Le Monde Diplomatique (France),March 12, 2009

    Israel blamed its earlier wars on the threat to its security, even that against Lebanon in 1982. However, its assault on Gaza was not justified and there are international calls for an investigation. But is there the political will to make Israel account for its war crimes?

    For the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948 the government is facing serious allegations of war crimes from respected public figures throughout the world. Even the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, normally so cautious about offending sovereign states – especially those aligned with its most influential member, the United States – has joined the call for an investigation and potential accountability. To grasp the significance of these developments it is necessary to explain what made the 22 days of attacks in Gaza stand shockingly apart from the many prior recourses to force by Israel to uphold its security and strategic interests.

    In my view, what made the Gaza attacks launched on 27 December different from the main wars fought by Israel over the years was that the weapons and tactics used devastated an essentially defenceless civilian population. The one-sidedness of the encounter was so stark, as signalled by the relative casualties on both sides (more than 100 to 1; 1300-plus Palestinians killed compared with 13 Israelis, and several of these by friendly fire), that most commentators refrained from attaching the label “war”.

    The Israelis and their friends talk of “retaliation” and “the right of Israel to defend itself”. Critics described the attacks as a “massacre” or relied on the language of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the past Israeli uses of force were often widely condemned, especially by Arab governments, including charges that the UN Charter was being violated, but there was an implicit acknowledgement that Israel was using force in a war mode. War crimes charges (to the extent they were made) came only from radical governments and the extreme left.

    The early Israeli wars were fought against Arab neighbours which were quite literally challenging Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state. The outbreaks of force were of an inter-governmental nature; and even when Israel exhibited its military superiority in the June 1967 six day war, it was treated within the framework of normal world politics, and though it may have been unlawful, it was not criminal.

    But from the 1982 Lebanon war this started to change. The main target then was the presence of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in southern Lebanon. But the war is now mainly remembered for its ending, with the slaughter of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Although this atrocity was the work of a Lebanese Christian militia, Israeli acquiescence, control and complicity were clearly part of the picture. Still, this was an incident which, though alarming, was not the whole of the military operation, which Israel justified as necessary due to the Lebanese government’s inability to prevent its territory from being used to threaten Israeli security.

    The legacy of the 1982 war was Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and the formation of Hizbullah in reaction, mounting an armed resistance that finally led to a shamefaced Israeli withdrawal in 1998. This set the stage for the 2006 Lebanon war in which the announced adversary was Hizbullah, and the combat zone inevitably merged portions of the Lebanese civilian population with the military campaign undertaken to destroy Hizbullah. Such a use of hi-tech Israeli force against Hizbullah raised the issue of fighting against a hostile society with no equivalent means of defending itself rather than against an enemy state. It also raised questions about whether reliance on a military option was even relevant to Israel’s political goals, as Hizbullah emerged from the war stronger, and the only real result was to damage the reputation of the IDF as a fighting force and to leave southern Lebanon devastated.

    The Gaza operation brought these concerns to the fore as it dramatised this shift away from fighting states to struggles against armed resistance movements, and with a related shift from the language of “war” to “criminality”. In one important respect, Israel managed to skew perceptions and discourse by getting the media and diplomats to focus the basic international criminal law question on whether or not Israeli use of force was “disproportionate”.

    This way of describing Israeli recourse to force ignores the foundational issue: were the attacks in any legal sense “defensive” in character in the first place? An inquiry into the surrounding circumstances shows an absence of any kind of defensive necessity: a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that had been in effect since 19 July 2008 had succeeded in reducing cross-border violence virtually to zero; Hamas consistently offered to extend the ceasefire, even to a longer period of ten years; the breakdown of the ceasefire is not primarily the result of Hamas rocket fire, but came about mainly as a result of an Israeli air attack on 4 November that killed six Hamas fighters in Gaza.

    Continued >>


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