| UNRWA calls for end of Gaza siege!

UNRWA calls for end of Gaza siege ~ MEMO.

Reconstructing what was destroyed by the recent war on the Gaza Strip with the current blockade in place may take more than a decade so the siege must end, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl warned.

Krähenbühl’s remarks came during his first official visit to Switzerland where he met with the President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter and Secretary of State Yves Rossier in addition to other senior officials in the Foreign Ministry and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The UNRWA official also met with the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Swiss parliament.

According to a statement released by UNRWA, Krähenbühl said: “I wish to thank the government and people of Switzerland for their generous and unwavering support to UNRWA and the refugees we serve. The recent fighting in Gaza and the UNRWA response demonstrated once more how vital our services have become.”

“As the discussions intensify about the reconstruction of Gaza, it is becoming clear that UNRWA will be central to that effort. But let it not be forgotten that Swiss funds are supporting our services beyond Gaza, across the Middle East in war-torn Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank.”

During his stay in Bern, he also briefed senior Swiss officials on the work of UNRWA during the recent fighting in Gaza and the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

He said that at least 20,000 homes have been destroyed during the recent fighting in Gaza, and that there was widespread destruction of public infrastructure, adding that it was “an imperative for the international community and for the people of Gaza to reconstruct after the devastation”, which was unprecedented in recent history. But he warned that with the current blockade of Gaza in place, it could take over a decade to rebuild. Therefore, the blockade must be lifted.

Krähenbühl said: “I visited Gaza three times during the recent conflict and the impact of the fighting on individual human lives, particularly the young, is palpable and profound. Hundreds of thousands of children are deep in trauma. We estimate that of the 3,000 children injured, 1,000 will have disabilities for life.”

He pointed out that “several hundred UNRWA counsellors are working to restore a sense of normality. UNRWA will do all it can to restore human dignity to a community that has suffered enough.”

Krähenbühl expressed concern for the “more than 50,000 people” still living in UNRWA schools in Gaza because their homes had been destroyed. “We need to do all we can to find alternative accommodation for these people, as we are determined to begin our delayed school year on 14 September. It will be a challenge. We run 245 schools in 156 school buildings, many of which were damaged. We are giving an education to over 240,000 students in Gaza and we cannot put their education on hold. Education delayed is education denied,” he stressed.

Switzerland contribution to UNRWA for 2014 has amounted to more than 16 million Swiss francs ($17.4 million) making it the organisation’s eleventh largest donor.

The majority of these funds support UNRWA’s main services such as the education of half a million children and providing health care services to millions across the Middle East.

Krähenbühl expressed concern for the “more than 50,000 people” still living in UNRWA schools in Gaza because their homes had been destroyed

UNRWA

| Gaza Crisis: ICC Chief Prosecutor Says Palestine Can File War Crime Charges Against Israel!

Gaza Crisis: ICC Chief Prosecutor Says Palestine Can File War Crime Charges Against Israel ~ , International Business Times.

According to International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Palestine can file war crime charges against Israel, after it joins the ICC Rome Statute, reported The Jerusalem Post.

Bensouda’s statements come as the International Criminal Court faces criticism over having alleged political influences that have prevented it from acting against Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

Has the international criminal court avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza due to political pressure. The answer is an unequivocal “no”. As prosecutor of the ICC, I reject any suggestion of this in the strongest terms.
– Fatou Bensouda, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor

Bensouda has defended ICC’s position, in an op-ed published on Friday (29 August) in The Guardian, by saying that the lack of investigation is due to Palestine’s lack of party to the Statute.

“Has the international criminal court avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza due to political pressure, as suggested in an article published in the Guardian earlier this week? The answer is an unequivocal “no”. As prosecutor of the ICC, I reject any suggestion of this in the strongest terms,” said Bensouda.

She confirmed, however, that following the UN General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member state on November 29, 2012, “Palestine could now join the Rome Statute.”

International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda waits on November 27, 2013 for the start of the trial of Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba and two close associates at the ICC in The Hague.Getty Images

The Jerusalem Post has criticized Bensouda saying: “Bensouda’s op-ed, is in itself a highly uncharacteristic public venue for her to articulate her office’s usually closely held official positions.”

Despite the Palestinian Authority Foreign Affairs Minister, Riad al-Malki, insisting on Palestine’s will to file war crime charges against Israel and possibly join the Rome Statute when he met with Bensouda on August 5, her office had said at the time that Palestine had simply not chosen to sign the Statute.

Bensouda’s op-ed further clarifies that she has no intention of personally filing indictment against the Israelis as there are only two standard ways for ICC cases to start – either by Palestine joining the ICC’s Rome Statute or a UN Security Council referral.

Yet, Bensouda’s confirmation on ICC being open to accepting an upcoming Palestine application does not serve as a guarantee for indictment charges against certain Israelis.

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Fatou Bensouda: the truth about the ICC and Gaza ~ theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014.

Under the laws of the Hague court, my office can only investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine if it grants us jurisdiction in its territory. It has not done so.

Gaza city after an Israeli sir strike
‘It is my firm belief that recourse to justice should never be compromised by political expediency.’ Photograph: Mohammed Othman/AFP/Getty Images

Has the international criminal court avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza due to political pressure, as suggested in anarticle published in the Guardian earlier this week? The answer is an unequivocal “no”. As prosecutor of the ICC, I reject any suggestion of this in the strongest terms.

When an objective observer navigates clear of the hype surrounding this issue, the simple truth is that my office has never been in a position to open such an investigation due to lack of jurisdiction. We have always, clearly and publicly, stated the reasons why this is so.

The Rome statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, is open to participation by states. The prosecutor can only investigate and prosecute crimes committed on the territory or by the nationals of states that have joined the ICC statute or which have otherwise accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC through an ad hoc declaration to that effect pursuant to article 12-3 of the statute.

This means that the alleged crimes committed in Palestine are beyond the legal reach of the ICC, despite the arguments of some legal scholars that fundamental jurisdictional rules can be made subject to a liberal and selective interpretation of the Rome statute. They appear to advocate that as the object and purpose of the ICC is to end impunity for mass crimes, the court ought to intervene, even where clear jurisdictional parameters have not been met. This is neither good law nor does it make for responsible judicial action.

The Palestinian Authority sought to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC in 2009. My office carefully considered all of the legal arguments put forth and concluded in April 2012, after three years of thorough analysis and public consultations, that Palestine’s status at the UN as “observer entity” was crucial – since entry into the Rome statute system is through the UN secretary general, who acts as treaty depositary. Palestine’s status at the UN at that time meant it could not sign up to the Rome statute. The former ICC prosecutor concluded that as Palestine could not join the statute, it could also not lodge an article 12-3 declaration bringing itself under the ambit of the treaty, as it had sought to do.

In November 2012, Palestine’s status was upgraded by the UN general assembly to “non-member observer state” through the adoption of resolution 67/19. My office examined the legal implications of this development and concluded that while this change did not retroactively validate the previously invalid 2009 declaration, Palestine could now join the Rome statute.

That Palestine has signed various other international treaties since obtaining this “observer state” status confirms the correctness of this position. Nonetheless, to date, the statute is not one of the treaties that Palestine has decided to accede to, nor has it lodged a new declaration following the November 2012 general assembly resolution. It is a matter of public record that Palestinian leaders are in the process of consulting internally on whether to do so; the decision is theirs alone and as ICC prosecutor, I cannot make it for them.

By virtue of the nature of the court’s mandate, every situation in which the ICC prosecutor acts will be politically fraught. My mandate as prosecutor is nonetheless clear: to investigate and prosecute crimes based on the facts and exact application of the law in full independence and impartiality.

Whether states or the UN security council choose to confer jurisdiction on the ICC is a decision that is wholly independent of the court. Once made, however, the legal rules that apply are clear and decidedly not political under any circumstances. In both practice and words, I have made it clear in no uncertain terms that the office of the prosecutor will execute its mandate, without fear or favour, where jurisdiction is established and will vigorously pursue those – irrespective of status or affiliation – who commit mass crimes that shock the conscience of humanity. My office’s approach to Palestine will be no different if the court’s jurisdiction is ever triggered over the situation.

It is my firm belief that recourse to justice should never be compromised by political expediency. The failure to uphold this sacrosanct requirement will not only pervert the cause of justice and weaken public confidence in it, but also exacerbate the immense suffering of the victims of mass atrocities. This, we will never allow.

 

| The Palestinian message to Israel: Deal with us justly. Or disappear!

The Palestinian message to Israel: Deal with us justly. Or disappear ~ Jeff Halper, Mondoweiss.

Until Operation Protective Edge, most of the “messaging” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, certainly that which broke through the mainstream media, came from the Israeli side. Since Zionism’s official beginnings in Palestine some 110 years ago, the Jewish community, whether the pre-state Yishuv or constituted as the state of Israel, never took the Palestinians seriously. They were dark-skinned “natives” wrapped sinisterly in kafiyas, fedayeen or terrorists without names, history or humanity, an existential threat subsumed under the rubric “Arabs.” In 1967, when Israel finally came face to face with an organized, visible, politically aware Palestinian society, the idea of talking to them did not even occur to Israel’s leaders. They preferred to take what land and resources they wanted from the West Bank and “return” its Palestinian population to Jordan. (No one until this day in Israel has the faintest idea what to do with Gaza, except isolate it.) One Prime Minister, Golda Meir, even denied vociferously and derisively that a “Palestinian” people even existed. No Israeli government ever acknowledged the national rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination in their own country, even in a tiny, truncated state on parts of the Occupied Territory. In the brightest days of the Oslo “peace process,” all a Labor/Meretz government agreed to do was recognize the PLO as a negotiating partner. It never accepted the idea of a truly sovereign, viable Palestinian state, even if demilitarized and arising on but a fifth of historic Palestine.

To be sure, the Palestinian people resisted and, when possible, tried to negotiate. Their leadership was often weak, but we must remember that since 1948, when the nascent IDF went from village to village with ledgers containing the names of those who should be assassinated, until the attempted assassination of Muhammed Deif a few days ago, Israel has conducted a systematic campaign of eliminating by murder or imprisonment any Palestinian showing real or potential leadership. Fearful of giving any credit to Palestinian peace-making lest it undermine their own absolute claims by legitimizing a Palestinian “side,” Israelis forget and deride any Palestinian hand reaching out to them. Who remembers, for example, the moving words of Yasser Arafat at the (unsuccessful) conclusion of the Wye Plantation negotiations in 1998?  That’s when Netanyahu decided to stop agreed-upon Israeli withdrawals in the West Bank and his Foreign Minister Sharon publically called on the settlers to “grab every hilltop.” Nonetheless, in the concluding press conference, with nothing to gain and no prompting, Arafat said:

I am quite confident that I’m talking in the name of all Palestinians when I assure you that we are all committed to the security of every child, woman and man in Israel. I will do everything I can so that no Israeli mother will be worried if her son or daughter is late coming home, or any Israeli would be afraid when they heard an explosion.

The Palestinians’ messaging of peace, security and, yes, justice, was always buried under Israeli spin. At that very same Wye Plantation meeting, Sharon demonstrably refused to shake Arafat’s hand before the cameras. “Shake the hand of that dog?” he told reporters: “Never.” Mahmoud Abbas has gotten little better from Sharon or Netanyahu, despite repeated televised meetings with Israeli students, Knesset members or anyone else willing to listen to his pleas for peace, even at the price of giving up parts of East Jerusalem and some major settlement blocs. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority bear their share of the responsibility for this as well. For his own reasons Abbas has silenced his most articulate spokespeople, filled his Authority’s diplomatic posts for the most part with ineffective political hacks and makes it almost impossible for reporters to get information or responses – all in contrast to Israel’s vaunted hasbara and legions of professional spin-doctors. As a result, there has been little official Palestinian messaging at all. What has saved the day until now has been the efforts of civil society supporters of the Palestinian cause: the contributors to the Electronic Intifada, articulate Palestinian activists and academics on al Shabaka, events and actions initiated on campuses by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the myriad analysts, activists and organizations of the international civil society, including critical Israeli ones, not to forget the growing BDS movement.

That seemed to change suddenly when, on August 26th, Israel announced that it had accepted a permanent cease-fire with no pre-conditions, to be followed by a month of negotiations over issues of concern to Gazans – opening borders, reconstruction under international supervision, the rebuilding of the airport and seaport, ending restrictions on Palestinian fishing and on farming in the “buffer zone,” the reopening of the “safe passage” to the West Bank, release of prisoners and more. Hamas, who led the confrontation with Israel, was careful not to disconnect Gaza from the wider struggle for Palestinian national rights. It was Abbas who announced the cease-fire, not Khaled Mashal or Ismail Haniya, stressing that the struggle was a Palestinian one, not merely Gazan. In fact, although Netanyahu initiated Operation Protective Edge with an eye to destroying a Palestinian Unity Government of Fatah/Hamas, he ended up strengthening it. Hamas emerged the darling of the Palestinian people, as least as far as resistance goes. It was announced that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would be joining the PLO. And, in order to allow a kind of civil relationship with Egypt, Hamas lowered its pan-Islam Muslim Brotherhood profile in favor of its Palestinian one.

Still, the messaging belonged to Hamas, the ones who not only confront the Israeli Occupation but who have seized the political initiative from it. In stark contrast to Abbas, who has declared security cooperation with Israel to be “sacred” and who passively allows Israel to take effective control of Area C, the 62% of the West Bank where the settlements, the massive matrix of Israeli highways and the Separation Barrier spell the end of the two-state solution, Hamas has sent a clear and forceful message to Israel: We won’t submit even if you kill us. Deal with us justly – or disappear.

Yes, even in its moment of triumph – an Israeli commentator wryly noted on TV this week that “a Six Day War this will not be,” and polls show that 59% of Israelis do not believe Israel won – Hamas has left the door open to a two-state solution. Their position, as I understand it and as set out in the Prisoners’ National Conciliation Document of 2006, is nuanced but principled and coherent. Hamas and Jihad reject utterly the legitimacy of Israel, viewing it as a settler colonial state, and thus reject any negotiations with it or any subsequent recognition. That said, if other Palestinian parties (i.e. Fatah) enter into negotiations with Israel and the outcome is a total withdrawal from the Occupied Territory based on conditions that would allow a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state to arise, and if such a outcome would be approved by a referendum of all Palestinians around the world, Hamas and Jihad would respect that as the voice of the Palestinian people. Thus, while still rejecting the legitimacy of Israel in principle, Hamas has agreed to join a Unity Government that accepts the two-state solution – enough for the Netanyahu government to try and break it apart. Hence Hamas’s post-Operation Protective Edge message to Israel: deal with us justly – or disappear. This is your last chance. The alternative to the two-state solution, which few Palestinians believe is still possible, and rightly so, is a single state. That’s a democratic state in the eyes of the Palestinian left, an Algeria-like situation in which the colonialists leave in the eyes of Hamas and Jihad.

This should give Israel pause, although ironically it is Israel that has eliminated the two-state solution and has left a single state – an apartheid one in the eyes of all Israeli governments, including Labor – as the only other option. Indeed, just last month Netanyahu said publicly: “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” For 110 years “practical Zionism” has believed it can beat the natives, that it can judaize Palestine and, with its metaphorical and physical Iron Walls, cause “the Arabs” to despair of the Land of Israel ever becoming Palestine.

Well, Israel has given it its best shot. After grabbing almost all the land, driving most of the Palestinians out, imprisoning and impoverishing them in tiny enclaves in both Israel and the Occupied Territory, after burying the Palestinian presence and patrimony under Israeli-only cities, towns, kibbutzim and national parks, after assassinating its leaders and leaving its youth with no hope of a future, it now brings the full force of one of the best-equipped militaries in the world against two million poor people living in an area the size of Mobile, Alabama. More than 2000 killed in Gaza, another 12,000 injured. Some 20,000 homes destroyed, 475,000 people displaced. Six billion dollars in damage to buildings and infrastructure. And for what? Israel may have finally discovered the limits of force and violence. After taking its best shots for more than a century – and, it is true, dealing the Palestinians devastating blows, as Netanyahu and the IDF proudly claim – Israel has gained one thing: an opportunity before it is too late to learn that the Palestinians cannot be beaten militarily, that Israel itself will never know security and normal life for all the “blows” it administers the Palestinians, as long as it maintains its Occupation. Indeed, for all its strength, it is liable to disappear if it doesn’t deal justly with the natives.

At least Abbas seems to have gotten the message. He now discards further pointless negotiations with Israel as brokered by the US, preferring to have the UN set a target date for Israeli withdrawal, and perhaps going to the International Criminal Court. Hamas is likely to prevent any backsliding on his part. Maybe Israel will never get the message, its hubris blinding it to tectonic shifts in the geopolitical landscape, especially among the people of the world. But the collapse is happening. Perhaps slower than in apartheid South Africa, the Soviet Union, the Shah’s Iran or Mubarak’s Egypt, but happening none the less. Having lost the power of deterrence, Israel will either have to deal justly with the Palestinians or, indeed, disappear.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: AP) 

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| Let’s party says Middle East peace envoy Tony B’Liar as Israel carpet bombs Gaza!

Let’s party says Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair as Israel carpet bombs Gaza ~ Robin Beste, Stop the War Coalition.

Was it appropriate for the Middle East peace envoy to throw a lavish party for political cronies and minor celebrities as Israel slaughtered over 1000 Palestinian civilians?

 

WHERE was Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair last week as Israel invaded Gaza and committed horrific war crimes, killing over 1000 Palestinians, 80% of them civilians, 200 of them children?

Not at his official residence and office in the millionaires’ row of East Jerusalem, which costs £750,000 a year, and from where he directs his somewhat less than successful efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

And what was Tony Blair doing, as Israel bombed hospitals, schools, centres for the disabled, and UN shelters to which 180,000 civilians fled — as at least 1000 homes were turned to rubble by random bombardment? What was he doing as the people in 46% of Gaza were warned by Israel to evacuate — without any indication of where they could go — or face being slaughtered by the world’s fifth most powerful military force?

What has been the Middle East’s Peace Envoy’s only visible contribution to finding a peaceful resolution to the carnage we have witnessed since 6 July, when Israel escalated its merciless attack on 1.8 million defenceless people, held captive by an inhumane siege, which for seven years  has left them starved of food, clean water and essential resources, including medical supplies?

The only sighting has been his appearances on television in which his one purpose seems to be to repeat endlessly that he supports “Israel’s right to defend itself”. By killing 200 childen? is never the repost by his interviewers, least of all on the BBC, which, like Tony Blair, is a fully signed up contributor to Israel’s propaganda campaign justifying crimes against humanity.

So has the peace envoy been active behind the scenes, working tirelessly to bring the carnage to an end?

As far as we know, his only behind the scenes activity has been to act as messenge-boy for the scam Egyptian “ceasefire proposal”, which was actually hatched in Washington, with the terms drafted by Israel. Tony Blair’s errand was to deliver the proposal to US-backed Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for him then to announce it as his initiative. The Middle East peace envoy, whose role is supposedly intended to mediate between warring parties in the region, didn’t consider showing the ceasefire proposal to Hamas, which only learnt of it from the media and understandably rejected it as a one-sided demand to surrender. As Israel based journalist Jonathan Cook wrote,

The corporate media swallowed the line of Israel accepting the “ceasefire proposal” and Hamas rejecting it. What Hamas did was reject a US-Israeli diktat to sign away the rights of the people of Gaza to end a siege that cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Tony Blair was the natural choice to be the US and Israeli emissary to the Egyptian dictator el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year that toppled the democratically elected government of president Mohamed Morsi. The Sisi regime is estimated to have killed more than 2,500 protesters and jailed more than 20,000. But that didn’t stop Blair at the beginning of July agreeing to “advise” the Egyptian dictator in a deal which is said to promise huge “business opportunities”.

Not for the first time, Blair is blurring the lines between his public position as peace envoy and his private business dealings in the Middle East. Which is why a group of former British ambassadors and political figures joined a campaign to call for Blair to be sacked as Middle East envoy

So where was Tony Blair last week, as the world watched in horror as Israel invaded Gaza with complete disregard for international and humanitarian law?

He was in the United Kingdom.

And what was his prime activity last week? It was planning a surprise 60th birthday party for his wife Cherie. Why she needed one to coincide with the news that Israel’s mass murder in Gaza had passed 1000 is not clear, as her 60th birthday isn’t actually due till September.

But there was the Middle East peace envoy on Friday 25 July, partying at a cost of £50,000 in his £6 million mansion, with 150 political cronies, wealthy businessmen and minor celebrities.

The next day, over 60,000 protesters brought central London to a standstillcalling for the Gaza massacre to stop. Many thousands more demonstrated in towns and cities throughout the UK. And across the world, from San Francisco to Tel Aviv, on every continent, demonstrations called for an end to the killing, the siege to be lifted and Palestine to be free.

There is an ever-growing worldwide outrage that Israel is allowed with impunity to get away with such barbarity. As the Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow put it: “Were any other country on Earth doing what is being done in Gaza, there would be worldwide uproar.”

And the response of Tony Blair, the Middle East peace envoy: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Time to party.

Tony and Cherie Blair partying

| #BDS: Stop Arming Israel – TAKE ACTION NOW!

Stop Arming Israel ~ BDS Movement.

TAKE ACTION NOW – add your name to the call for a military embargo using the form on the right

Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression.

Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and arms trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world.

Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams have published an open letter calling on the UN and governments around the world to impose a military embargo on Israel.

Other signatories include Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, playwright Caryl Churchill, US rapper Boots Riley, João Antonio Felicio, the president of the International Trade Union Confederation, and Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions.

By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

TAKE ACTION NOW – add your name to the call for a military embargo using the form on the right

The call will be presented to the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights when they take up their post in September 2014.
Read our fact sheet on the military embargo
#StopArmingIsrael

Photo: A child stands amid the rubble of the Al Dalu family home, Gaza City, December 3, 2012. Ten members of the Al Dalu family were killed, as well as two neighbors, by an air strike on their three-story home on November 18, 2012. Active Stills/Ryan Rodrick Beiler

DOWNLOADS, FACT SHEETS, NEWS

Fact sheet: The case for a military embargo on Israel ~ BDS Movement.

stop-arming-israel-2

Fact sheet: The case for a military embargo on Israel

Israel’s illegal use of military violenc

– Israel uses military force to maintain an unlawful regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid. This system is put in place in order to control as much land with as few indigenous Palestinians on it as possible, and to prevent the Palestinian people from exercising its inalienable right to self-determination.

– Between 2000 and 2010 alone, Israeli armed forces injured tens of thousands and killed more than 7,000 Palestinians.

– Israel has a documented track record of breaching international humanitarian and human rights law during its armed conflicts. This includes during its military operations, invasions and occupations of Palestinian and other Arab territory. Israel’s wars are acts of aggression, rather than “self-defence”, and are therefore in violation of international law. Israel’s military forces have officially adopted a doctrine of disproportionate force, otherwise known as the “Dahiya Doctrine”, which calls for severely hurting civilians and civilian infrastructure as the most “effective” means of stopping or undermining irregular resistance forces. The UN and other bodies have repeatedly documented war crimes and crimes against humanity.

– Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world.

Military aid and exports to Israel

– Over the period 2009-2018, the US is set to provide military aid to Israel worth $30bn. In 2011, the average US taxpayer gave Israel $21 in military aid. This military aid is often used to purchase military equipment from US companies. Since 2000, the US has licensed the export of nearly 825 million weapons valued at nearly $10.5 billion.

– European Union countries also export huge volumes of weapons and military equipment to Israel. In the period 2005-09, EU countries granted arms exports licenses to Israel worth €7.47bn. Weapons exports from the EU to Israel during 2012 were worth €613 million, up 290% on the previous year.

– Governments that license arms sales to Israel are giving clear approval to its on-going aggression against the Palestinian people and other Arab peoples in the region, while the companies that manufacture and sell the arms are profiting from and encouraging Israel’s colonial violence and violations of international law.

Exporting ‘field tested technology’ 

– According to figures contained in US government research for the period 2008-11, 7.Israel is the 7th largest arms exporter in the world and the largest per capita exporter. In 2010, approximately 80% of Israel’s military production was exported, and exports by Israeli arms companies totalled $7.2bn.

– Revenue from exports of military equipment and technology provides a vital revenue source for the Israeli government and military. As the military industry becomes increasingly important to the Israeli economy, a powerful incentive for continued occupation, colonialism, warmongering and military aggression is being created.

– Israel’s persistent attacks on Palestinians provide an opportunity for Israeli military companies such as Elbit Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industries to showcase their new technology. Israeli military companies market their military exports as “field tested”, by which they mean that their technology has been tested during “live” assaults on Palestinian civilians.

– Following the 2008-09 assault on Gaza, in which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, predominantly civilians, the Israeli army and military industry held a trade show in which they showed how their new technologies were used against Palestinians.

– Israel plays a leading role in exporting arms, equipment and technology to oppressive regimes. As well as exporting military and security technology and equipment itself, it is also exporting an ideology of securitisation, militarization of law enforcement as well as intense increasing oppression and domination.

Israel’s deadly drones

– Israel regularly uses armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones, in its attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. According to the Al Mezan Center, more than 1000 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by armed drones in the period 2000-10.

– Israel is now reportedly the largest exporter of drones in the world. Military companies Israeli Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems export the technology that is tested on Palestinians in Gaza all across the world.

– Countries that have procured UAVs from Elbit include Australia, Canada, Croatia, France, Georgia, Mexico, Singapore, Sweden, the UK, Brazil and USA.

Joint Military Research: Direct complicity in Israel’s crimes

– As well as direct arms and military trade, Israel also engages in joint military and security research, training and development with countries across the world.

– Most notably, Israeli military companies are able to participate in EU research programs. In the period 2007-13, Israeli military companies took part in research projects to which the EU awarded €244m.

The Palestinian call for a military embargo

– In 2011, the Palestinian BDS National Committee issued a call for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, which means an end to all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel.

– A comprehensive military embargo is a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and peoples of the region and a vital and effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.

– A number of countries including Norway and Turkey have implemented forms of military embargo on Israel in the past. Germany recently decided not to go ahead with a military aid deal with Israel.

– More than a dozen European banks have divested from Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company, over its role in Israel’s military violence.

Taking effective action to #StopArmingIsrael 

Take action now to help Stop Arming Israel:

– Sign the call for a military embargo launched by Nobel Prize winners and artists. Add your name here.

–Share the links to the military embargo petition and to this fact sheet on social media.

Take action online now to demand that the EU stops funding Israeli military companies.

– Write to your government to demand a military embargo on Israel and ask organisations that you are part of to put pressure on your government.

– Get in touch for help on starting a divestment campaign against companies and banks that are implicated in Israel’s military aggression and war crimes

bds-z

Noose tight BDS

DID YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT THE RACIST APARTHEID ‪#‎ZIONIST‬JEWISH STATE?
It’s bombing ‪#‎Gaza‬ to safeguard Jewish privilege in ‪#‎Palestine‬.

There are more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life, including their rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, and criminal procedures. Some of the laws also violate the rights of Palestinians living in the 1967 OPT and Palestinian refugees.

 

BDS ZIO FLAG

BoycottBDS

| Armed robbery in Gaza – Israel, US, UK carve up the spoils of Palestine’s stolen gas!

Armed robbery in Gaza – Israel, US, UK carve up the spoils of Palestine’s stolen gas ~ Nafeez Ahmed, ECOLOGIST.

Israel desperately covets Gaza’s gas as a ‘cheap stop-gap’ yielding revenues of $6-7 billion a year, writes Nafeez Ahmed. The UK’s BG and the US’s Noble Energy are lined up to do the dirty work – but first Hamas must be ‘uprooted’ from Gaza, and Fatah bullied into cutting off its talks with Russia’s Gazprom.

It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.

“Israel’s current offensive in the Gaza Strip is by no means an energy war”, writes Allison Good in The National Interestin a response to myEcologist / Guardianarticle exposing the role of natural gas in Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

This “has not stopped conspiracy theorists from alleging that the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge aims to assert control over Palestinians gas and avert an Israeli energy crisis.”

Describing me as a “self-proclaimed”international security journalist engaging in“shoddy logic, evidence and language”, Good – who works as a contractor for Noble Energy, the Texas-based oil major producing gas from Israel’s reserves in the Mediterranean Sea – claims that:

“Israel is nowhere close to experiencing an energy crisis and has no urgent or near-future need for the natural gas located offshore Gaza. While Israel gains nothing for its energy industry by hitting Gaza, it stands to lose significantly more.”

If you don’t like the evidence – ignore it

Yet Good’s missive is full of oversimplifications and distortions. She points out that Israel’s recently discovered Tamar and Leviathan fields together hold an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas – which, she claims “are expected to meet Israel’s domestic energy needs for at least the next twenty-five years” while simultaneously sustaining major exports.

“Israel is not using Operation Protective Edge to steal the Gaza Marine gas field from the Palestinians, and it is irresponsible to claim otherwise”, she asserts. Yet her blanket dismissal simply ignores the evidence.

In early 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed new negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Abu-Mazen over development of the Gaza Marine reservoir.

“The proposal was made in view of Israel’s natural gas shortage following the cessation of gas deliveries from Egypt”, reported the Israeli business daily Globes.

US-based Noble’s Gaza gas grab

But since 2012, Israel began unilaterally developing the Noa South gas reserve in the Mediterranean off the coast of Gaza, estimated to contain about 1.2 billion cubic metres.

According to Globes, Israel had previously “refrained from ordering development of the Noa field, fearing that this would lead to diplomatic problems vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority” as the field is “partly under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority in the economic zone of the Gaza Strip.”

Allison Good’s employer, Noble Energy, “convinced” Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures that the company’s drilling would “not spill over into other parts of the reserve.”

“Israel wanted to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority to develop Israel’s Noa South reservoir, which spreads into Gaza’s maritime area”, reported Globes. “In the end, Israel decided to develop the Noa reservoir without any official agreement.”

Israel’s secret gas talks

Despite repeated breakdowns in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to exploit the Gaza Marine gas reserves, Israel’s interest only accelerated.

In May last year, Israeli officials were in secret talks for months with the British Gas Group (BG Group), which owns the license over Gaza’s offshore resources, over development of the reserves.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Gaza Marine holds about 1.6 trillion cubic feet in recoverable gas, and “offshore Gaza territory may hold additional energy resources.”

Determining the size of these additional resources requires further exploration which, however, is limited by “uncertainty around maritime delineation between Israel, Gaza, and Egypt.”

Senior Israeli sources said that the Gaza gas issue was expected to come up in US President Barack Obama’s talks with Israeli leaders during his visit to Israel at the time.

The Palestinians – who own the gas – were excluded

The talks also included Netanyahu’s personal envoy Yitzak Molcho and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his capacity as Quartet (US, UK, EU, Russia) special envoy to the Middle East.

Palestinian leaders, though, were excluded from these talks due to “political sensitivities and the complex relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”

By October that year, the Financial Times reported that Netanyahu remained “very supportive” of the Gaza Marine gas project “which would see the fields exploited on behalf of the Palestinian Authority by investors led by BG Group.”

If all went ahead, the fields could be producing gas by 2017, generating “$6bn to $7bn of revenues a year.” An “energy industry source” cited by FT told the newspaper that:

“Israel may now see Gaza Marine as providing a useful alternative source of gas, especially at a time when its pipeline imports from Egypt have been disrupted due to unrest in the Sinai peninsula.

“Mr Netanyahu’s government faces criticism and a court challenge from opposition politicians over its plans to export up to 40 per cent of natural gas produced from its own, much larger Mediterranean gas reserves.

“Israel, the industry source said, may feel that gas from Gaza would allow it to reduce its reliance on the consortium led by Noble and Delek Energy now developing Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan offshore gasfields.”

Quashing the gas deal

But as Good herself noted in the same month in Dubai’s The National, there remained one problem:

“Hamas retains de facto jurisdiction over the Gaza Strip and, consequently, over Gaza Marine. The PA cannot negotiate on behalf of Hamas, and any agreement that Israel could make with Ramallah would certainly be declared null and void in Gaza. Israel also still refuses to negotiate with Hamas.”

And despite negotiations to exploit Gaza’s gas speeding ahead between Israeli government and BG Group officials, Netanyahu “quashed” a $4 billion economic stimulus initiative proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry which “included a proposal for the exploitation of Gaza Marine.”

Why was Netanyahu simultaneously pushing forward negotiations over Gaza’s gas, while also blocking and excluding any deal that would grant any Palestinian entity inclusion in the deal?

Israel’s gas reserves inflated, consumption understated

As noted in my article, and ignored by Noble Energy contractor Allison Good, the drive to access Gaza’s gas was likely magnified in the context of a report by Israeli government chief scientists Sinai Netanyahu and Shlomo Wald of the Energy and Water Resources Ministry.

That report was submitted to the Tzemach committee tasked with drafting a national gas policy, but was covered up until Ha’aretz obtained a leaked copy.

The Tzemach committee recommended the government to export 53% of its gas – reduced to 40% this June – amidst widespread allegations of “improper conduct” anddeliberate inflation of reserve figures.

Indeed, according to the report of the Israeli chief scientists, the government’s gas policy is based on underestimating future Israeli demand and overestimating the country’s gas production potential.

In reality, the scientists said, Israel will need 50% more natural gas than has been forecast until now and its offshore reserves will be empty in less than 40 years.”

Israel’s looming gas crunch

The most optimistic estimate received by the Tzemach committee was that Israel would need 364 billion cubic meters of gas. In contrast, the chief scientists argued that by 2040, Israel would need 650 billion cubic meters, after which the country would consume 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

At this rate, “even if Israel chooses not to export any gas, it will entirely exhaust its offshore reserves” by 2055. This assessment, further, ignores that “not all the gas is likely to be commercially extractable.”

The upshot is that Israel cannot simultaneously export gas and retain sufficient quantities to meet its domestic needs.

And if Israel exhausts its gas resources “it will be forced to return to oil to meet its energy needs, even though global oil production is expected to start declining by 2035.” The scientists noted that “if oil output drops by even 15%, its price is likely to spike by 550%.”

These concerns are compounded by the consistent under-performance of several of Israel’s recent gas discoveries compared to the hype, such as in the Sara, Myra, Ishai, and Elijah-3 reserves.

As Israel faces a 2015 gas shortage, Gaza’s gas is a cheap stop-gap

Sohbet Karbuz, head of hydrocarbons at Observatoire Méditerranéen de l’Energie (OME) in Paris, points out that much of the gas was not in hindsight commercially recoverable. As he writes in the Journal of Energy Security,

“There is no certainty that it will be commercially possible to produce any percentage of contingent resources.”

Israel’s gas export policy, he thus remarks with reference to the much-vaunted Tamar and Leviathan fields, is based “partly on a mixture of hype and hope on the one hand, and reserves and prospective resources on the other.”

Drilling in Israel’s Leviathan reserves which was supposed to begin in December 2013 has been postponed to later this year due to high gas pressures at lower depths. In the meantime, reports Jewish Business News,

“Postponing Leviathan’s development could have major repercussions on Israel’s economy, which will face a natural gas shortage from 2015.”

Israel needs the Gaza Marine as a stop-gap, but wants it cheap, and is unwilling to exploit the reserves through any Palestinian entity.

UK Foreign Office – ‘Israel won’t pay the full whack’

Official British Foreign Office (FCO) documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Palestinian think-tank Al-Shabaka based in Washington DC shine new light on this.

According to email correspondence between the FCO’s Near East Group and the British Consulate General in Jerusalem in November 2009, Israel had refused to pay market price for Gaza’s gas. One Foreign Office official said:

“Israel won’t (i) pay the full whack [for the gas] (ii) guarantee to give a certain cut direct to the PA. So BG aren’t getting the gas out of the sea-bed. They are content to exploit other reserves and come back to this one when the price is right.”

Another email dated 29th June 2010 noted that despite large reserves of gas discovered between Israel and Cyprus giving Israel the opportunity to become a net gas exporter, Israeli officials saw potential for the Gaza Marine to function as “a stop-gap measure before the new finds come fully on stream.”

On 8th February 2011, UK ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould wrote to the FCO explaining that Israel intended to therefore seek the development of Gaza’s gas reserves as this would

“enhance Palestinian opportunities; reduce Gaza’s dependence on Israel; and diversify Israel’s sources of gas. [redacted] added that this last point had been given added topicality by the attack this weekend on the gas pipeline from Egypt.”

British Gas and Israel collude to exclude Hamas

The biggest obstacle as far as Israel is concerned is Hamas, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the prospect of a strong independent Palestinian state.

An April 2014 policy paper for the European Parliament’s directorate-general of external policies points out that “distrust” between all these parties, particularly “political divisions on the Palestine side” have “hindered the negotiations.”

After Hamas was elected to power in the Gaza Strip in 2006, the group declared from the outset that Israel’s agreements with the PA were illegitimate, and that Hamas was the rightful owner of the Gaza Marine resources.

But BG Group and Israeli officials had come up with a strategy to bypass Hamas. A BG official told the Jerusalem Post in August 2007 that

“BG and Israel have arrived at an ‘understanding’ that will transfer funds intended for the PA’s Palestinian Investment Fund into an international bank account, where they will be held until the PA can retake control of the Gaza Strip.”

Under this plan, “Both Israel and BG intend that until the PA is able to remove Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip, the money will be held in an international bank account. Neither side wants the money to go to fund terror-related activities.”

Hamas must be uprooted from Gaza

The plan was, according to an Infrastructures Ministry official cited by the Jerusalem Post, about “circumventing the possibility that Israeli money will end up in the wrong hands” by arranging “a payment plan” that would “completely exclude Hamas”.

In the same year, incumbent Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon – then former IDF chief of staff – explicitly advocated that the only way in which Gaza’s gas could be developed was through an Israeli military incursion to eliminate Hamas.

Ya’alon’s concern was that “Palestinian gas profits would likely end up funding terrorism against Israel”, a threat which “is not limited to Hamas” and includes the Fatah-run PA. As preventing gas proceeds from “reaching Palestinian terror groups” is “impossible”, Ya’alon concluded:

“It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”

Ya’alon’s concerns voiced in 2007 – and the prospect of using military force to begin gas production in Gaza – remain relevant today. As the man in charge of Israel’s current war on Gaza, Ya’alon is now in a position to execute the vision he had outlined a year before Operation Cast Lead.

Extending Israeli sovereignty over Gaza

Thus, the exclusion of Palestinian representatives – whether Fatah or Hamas – from the latest negotiations between Israel and BG Gas is no accident.

While PA president Mahmoud Abbas was independently seeking to reach a deal with Russia’s Gazprom to develop the Gaza Marine, Netanyahu had already “made explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state” – which is why he deliberately torpedoed the peace process, according to US officials.

The other factor in this equation is the legal challenge to the Gaza gas proposals fromYam Thetis, a consortium of three Israeli firms and Samedan Oil.

Samedan is a subsidiary of the same US oil company, Noble Energy, that employs National Interest contributor Allison Good, and which has been operating in the Noa South field that overlaps Gaza.

Yam Thetis’ principal argument was that “BG had no right to drill in Palestinian waters as the Palestinian Authority is not a state and cannot grant such a right to drill in offshore Gaza.”

The upshot is that Noble Energy’s consortium should have the right to extend its drilling into the Gaza Marine on behalf of Israel – and at the expense of the Palestinians.

Removing the obstacles – Hamas and the PA

Since the Oslo Accords, although the PA’s maritime jurisdiction extends up to 20 nautical miles from the coast, Israel has incrementally reduced Gaza’s maritime jurisdiction by 85%from 20 to 3 nautical miles – effectively reversing Palestinian sovereignty over the Gaza Marine.

But with Israel’s determination to access Gaza’s gas accelerating in the context of the risk of a 2015 energy crunch, the fundamental obstacle to doing so remained not just the intransigent Hamas, but an insufficiently pliant PA seeking to engage the west’s arch-geopolitical rival, Russia.

Israel’s own commitment to blocking a two-state solution and bypassing Hamas meant that its only option to bring Gaza’s gas into production was to do so directly – with, it seems, the competing collusion of American and British energy companies.

The IDF’s Gaza operation, launched fraudulently in the name of self-defence, is certainly though not exclusively about permanently altering the facts on the ground in Gaza to head-off the PA’s ambitions for autonomously developing the Marine gas reserves, and to eliminate Hamas’ declared sovereignty over them.

 


 

Also by Nafeez Ahmed:Gaza: Israel’s $4 billion gas grab‘.

Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development in London. He has advised the British Foreign Office, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and US State Department, and his work was officially used by the 9/11 Commission. He writes for The Ecologist and The Guardian on the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises.

His latest nonfiction book is A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save it(2010), and his forthcoming novel, Zero Point, is out this August.

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| Israel Started This ‘War’ and Killed 1,000+ Based on A Very Big Lie!

Israel Started This War and Killed 1,000+ Based on A Very Big Lie ~ , AddictingInfo.org

Over the past several weeks – Israel’s constant bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza, Palestine has become a front page story. And while many people cling to their own biases and personal beliefs relative to whether or not they view Israel’s actions justified … what is concerning is how so few people actually understand what led to Israel turning Gaza into a death zone. Well – the Israeli government lied to start a war.

In June of this year – three Israeli teens went missing. The Israeli government knew they were dead but put a gag order on Israeli news organizations so they were unable to report this. They flooded Palestinians towns with Israeli military(source), arrested hundreds of Palestinians including people let go in prior political agreements (source), and looted their homes of their valuables (source) all under the pretext of looking for the “missing teenagers”.  Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said there was “unequivocal proof” that Hamas was responsible for what he called “kidnappings” (source) and the US media reported it exactly as he said it.  If you were an American – you were told by the US media via the Israeli government that Hamas kidnapped three teenagers (source).  Netanyahu said he would show the evidence for the world to see (source) … days and weeks went by with no evidence but plenty of military actions against the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu incited violence against Palestinians and said that the Palestinian people will pay for these three kids getting kidnapped (source).  And that’s exactly what he got.  Over 10 Palestinians were killed by the IDF or by Israeli citizens in the coming days; one of them was burned alive by six Jews (source).  One Palestinian American teenager was filmed getting nearly beaten to death by the Israeli Defense Forces for simply not being Jewish (source).  There are to this day gangs of Jewish Israelis roaming the streets in Israel and Palestine looking to harm Palestinians just because of their ethnicity (source).  The message was – you hurt one of ours and we’re going make you pay the price.

For over a week – the Israeli government bombed Gaza unprovoked.  No missiles came from Gaza – the Israeli government said it was “retaliating” for the death of three Israeli teenagers who they said Hamas was responsible for killing.  Over a week of bombing Palestinian civilians in Gaza (source).  When asked for proof that Hamas was involved – this Israeli colonel said Israel didn’t need proof (source) they were simply going to bomb Palestine into the next century.  Operation “Protective Edge” began on July 7th (source) for what Israel called a response to rockets attacking Israel.  In reality – Hamas was really just retaliating against Israeli aggression that led to the murder of Palestinian civilians.

Well – as it turns out – Hamas wasn’t responsible for the kidnapping of those three Jewish kids despite all of the assurances by the Israeli government and parroting by the United States mainstream media.  It was all a lie.

As reported by Buzzfeed reporter Sheera Frenkel:

Hanan Ashrawi is a member of the PLO executive committee and she did an excellent job explaining why Israel is responsible for war crimes here:

“These are war crimes being committed before the world, before the eyes of the whole world and I just can’t understand how people sit back and say [it’s] self-defense. I just can’t take the language, I can’t take the propaganda, I can’t take the mantra that Israel has a right to defend itself. Against whom? Against innocent civilians? More than 80 children have been torn to bits. Is this self-defense?”

First – most people do not understand the big picture. So many think this is a religious war that’s gone on for 2,000 years. The person who thinks that is wholly misinformed. The Israeli government has been working for decades to steal as much land from the Palestinian people under the auspice of “security”. Even people who support a 2 state solution understand that geographically – Gaza is not linked to the West Bank which covers East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron etc.

And with that lack of a contiguous border – Palestine has essentially been broken into two parts. Both parts have different leadership; Gaza is run by Hamas and the West Bank is run by Fatah or the Palestinian Authority. Both political groups have had their differences and infighting and this has made it very difficult for them to push for a bid at the United Nations to be a fully recognized country in the eyes of the world. And this bid to be a fully recognized country is what scares Israel the most; in fact – most Americans do not know that Israel to this day refuses to say what their borders actually are. For while the international community regards their borders to be set along the 1967 lines – the Israeli government will not accept this. In fact – even Hamas has called for the recognition of 1967 borders which is a de facto recognition of Israel as a state.

Bottom line – once Palestine is recognized as a country … their borders are recognized officially. And it is exactly this issue that has led Israel to start a war. In order for Israel to keep taking land from indigenous Palestinians in order to give it to Jews from Brooklyn and Russia – it needs there to be no borders. The only way to do that is to stop Palestine’s bid at the UN and the only way to do that is to break up the recent “unity government” between Hamas and Fatah where they have called for an technocratic government to run the show while they demonstrate solidarity.

And Netanyahu (source), his allies and American politicians dedicated to Israel and their wealthy pro-Israel donors have called for the breakup of the Palestinian unit government  (source) and (source).

And as Jewish News Service says HERE:

Some U.S. lawmakers are unconvinced. U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.  introduced a nonbinding resolution (H. Res. 622) on June 12, spelling out specific reasons to defund the unity government.

“All U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority should have been be suspended years ago, but openly joining a terrorist organization that kills women and children simply because they are Jewish should convince even the Obama administration to wake up and defund this madness,” said Franks. “With the formation by Fatah and Hamas of a unity government, it is all too clear why recent attempts at peace talks have failed. Peace talks will never be productive while only one party is seeking peace and another is openly courting terrorist allies.”

In the Senate, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), two prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidates, have both called for defunding the PA. Cruz is yet to introduce his bill, while Paul’s Stand with Israel Act of 2014 (S. 2265), introduced June 17, is not expected to pass.

Still, in an op-ed for National Review last week, Paul blasted the White House and State Department for what he views as an indecisive, morally equivocating U.S. attitude towards the murder of the Israeli teens.

Norman Finkelstein – the passionate and outspoken professor – said it best on Democracy Now HERE:

As to how we got to where we are, the general context is perfectly obvious for anyone who wants to see it. A unity government was formed between the PA and Hamas. Netanyahu was enraged at this unity government. It called on the U.S., it called on the EU, to break relations with the Palestinian Authority. Surprisingly, the United States said, “No, we’re going to give this unity government time. We’ll see whether it works or not.” Then the EU came in and said it will also give the unity government time. “Let’s see. Let’s see what happens.”

At this point, Netanyahu virtually went berserk, and he was determined to break up the unity government. When there was the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers, he found his pretext. There isn’t a scratch of evidence, not a jot of evidence, that Hamas had anything to do with the kidnappings and the killings. Nobody even knows what the motive was, to this point. Even if you look at the July 3rd report of Human Rights Watch, they said nobody knows who was behind the abductions. Even the U.S. State Department, on July 7th, there was a news conference, and the U.S. State Department said, “We don’t have hard evidence about who was responsible.” But that had nothing to do with it. It was just a pretext. The pretext was to go into the West Bank, attack Hamas, arrest 700 members of Hamas, blow up two homes, carry on these rampages, these ransackings, and to try to evoke a reaction from Hamas.

This is what Israel always does. Anybody who knows the history, it’s what the Israeli political scientist, the mainstream political scientist—name was Avner Yaniv—he said it’s these Palestinian “peace offensives.” Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict, which the unity government was, at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction—in this case, from Hamas—break up the unity government, and Israel has its pretext. “We can’t negotiate with the Palestinian Authority because they only represent some of the Palestinian people; they don’t represent all of the Palestinian people.” And so Netanyahu does what he always does—excuse me, what Israeli governments always do: You keep pounding the Palestinians, in this case pounding Hamas, pounding Hamas, trying to evoke a reaction, and when the reaction comes—well, when the reaction comes, he said, “We can’t deal with these people. They’re terrorists.”

Israel lied to the American media and the American media parroted their lies.  The Israeli war on Palestine is still ongoing with over 1,000 dead vs. 3 Israeli civilians, thousands more wounded and a completely demolished infrastructure.  The Israeli cabinet unanimously rejected the last peace deal that was purportedly proposed by Secretary of State Kerry (source).

For images of the effects of this war – you can see HERE, HERE, and HERE.

[Image courtesy of Mohammed Saber/EPA]

_____________________________________________________________________

 

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| Forced Adoption in the UK: Child Protection or ‘Punishment Without a Crime’?

Forced Adoption in the UK: Child Protection or ‘Punishment Without a Crime’? ~ , International Business Times.

When a couple brought their newborn son to a hospital with a fractured arm, Coventry social services were called in on suspicion that the child might have been injured by his parents.

The mother was arrested, handcuffed and detained for nine hours, fearing her child might be taken away. Although not charged with any offence, the couple remain on police bail, preventing them leaving the country.

The child was taken by his Irish grandmother to Ireland, where is he supported by a family. Social services are still attempting to get an order through the courts for the grandmother to return to England.

This is just one case study of “forced adoption” – a term used by critics of the practice of removing children permanently from their parents and their subsequent adoption.

Aside from Croatia, Britain is the only EU member state that practices forced adoption and for some, it is a secretive system that allows social workers to separate children from loving families without proper justification and with little concern for their interests.

But for others, adoption is only carried out when it is in the child’s best interests to do so – and criticism of the social care system is merely a consequence of the incomprehensibly difficult task of removing children from their parents.

There are 92,000 “looked after” children in the UK – meaning cared for by the state – according to NSPCC. More than half of these children in England and Wales became looked after because of abuse or neglect between 2012 and 2013 but critics say they have had their sons and daughters taken away for less.

Ian Josephs, who runs the Forced Adoption website, has helped hundreds of families in this situation.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, he explained lots of parents feel they are punished without having committed a crime.

“No baby or child should be removed from parents and put into care unless one of the parents has committed, or at least been charged with a crime against children,” he said.

But the argument for forcible adoptions is that if left too late, the child may be at risk or serious harm or even suffer death.

However, another problem lies in determining if and proving that, particularly in cases of emotional abuse, there is sufficient evidence to take the child away.

Critics state there are a number of procedural issues surrounding forced adoption. Some argue that due to increased funding for social services units – that effectively place a greater number of children with adopted families – there are financial incentives for local authorities to secure adoptions.

Moreover, some argue there is a demonisation of parent’s embroiled in care proceedings. More than 90% of families where children are forcibly adopted live below the poverty line – despite counterarguments that child abuse and neglect are not class issues.

Around 45% of the parents have mental health problems, which often go undiagnosed, unassessed or untreated, before proceedings take place.

Once a child is placed for adoption, neither the parents nor child have any recourse open to them to reverse the process – even when evidence comes to light that shows that the reasons for the adoption were flawed.

Currently, families subjected to forced adoption may also be prohibited by court order from publicly discussing their case and attempting to contact their children.

“Most parents who contact me say they have done nothing wrong and if they speak the truth, they shouldn’t be punished by the state by having their children confiscated – nor should they receive gagging orders to stop them complaining publicly and breaching their freedom of speech,” said Josephs.

Speaking at a conference for the charity Children Screaming to be Heard, Josephs stated that when children are taken into care, gagging orders isolate children from family and friends.

“Even if parents have done committed a crime, the children haven’t – we shouldn’t treat them like them have,” he added.

Introduced in April, the Children and Families Act 2014 seeks to reshape the adoption system – in particular, to get children placed with adoptive families more quickly.

But while adopting is necessary for children in danger, there are a number of solutions that don’t punish the families of children who are not.

Such solutions include pre-proceedings intensive support, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and specialist family support services.

Rather than bonuses for placing children in care, they could be used to support families remaining together.

Related

child shadow

Critics say forced adoption without criminal activity is “punishment without a crime” Getty

 

| #WarCrimes #Gaza #Israel + The Art Of War, Spin + Slaughter!

Israel And The Art Of War, Spin And Slaughter ~ Michael Brull, newmatilda.com.

The real story about the destruction of Gaza by Israel, and the targetting of civilians, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure must be told. Michael Brull explains.

As Israel’s attack on Gaza continues, the bodies pile up. As one might expect from the balance of military power, the bodies are overwhelmingly Palestinian.

According to the most recent statistics at time of writing from the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel has killed 599 Palestinians.

These include at least 443 civilians, and 147 children, with the possible combatant or civilian status of 69 dead Palestinians not yet established.

At that point, 28 Israelis had been killed, 26 of them soldiers.

 

Comparatively, this meant that at least 74 per cent of the Palestinians killed by Israel were civilians.

However, only 7 per cent of the Israelis killed by Palestinians have been civilians so far.

For every one Israeli killed, about 21 Palestinians have been killed. And 15, maybe more of those 21 are always civilians.

Besides this, Israel has been systematically targeting civilian infrastructure in its bombardment.

For example, the latest OCHA report notes that Israel bombed “the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El Balah, destroying the top two floors, killing three people, and injuring over 40. Since the start of the emergency at least 18 medical facilities have been hit by airstrikes and shelling.”

One of these facilities was a hostel for people with disabilities.

Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem provided the testimony of a woman who lived there, May Hamadah, in her “only home”.

On July 12, she heard a loud explosion, woke up, and found the hostel destroyed, and her friends dead.

In hospital, people who came to visit told me that about seven minutes before the hostel was bombed, neighbours heard warning missiles. We heard nothing inside the hostel. Even if we had heard the warning, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything, because we’re all severely handicapped and none of us can move without help. Salwa wouldn’t have been able to get us out of there by herself.
Besides, we never imagined they would bomb a hostel for the disabled.

B’Tselem observed that “Two hostel residents were killed in the bombing: Ula Washahi, 30, who suffered from cerebral palsy, and Suha Abu Sa’dah, 47, who suffered from an intellectual disability.”

On 16 July, B’Tselem reported that the Israeli military demanded that the al-Wafaa rehabilitative hospital in a-Shuja’iyeh be evacuated, along with everyone else in the area.

B’Tselem responded with outrage:

According to al-‘Ashi, the hospital currently has 17 patients, between the ages of 14 and 95, all suffering from different degrees of paralysis. There are also some thirty staff members in the hospital at this time and a number of international activists. Al-‘Ashi clarified that there is no intention to evacuate the hospital, noting that this was one of the only hospitals in Gaza to offer rehabilitative treatment for patients in these conditions.

The military’s demand to evacuate the hospital is unlawful. A hospital is not a military target and the military may not target it even after it is evacuated. The information B’Tselem has indicates that the hospital was ordered to evacuate as part of the sweeping demand to evacuate the entire neighborhood, in blatant disregard for the fact that evacuating a rehabilitation institution is a complicated task which may put lives at risk. There is no other rehabilitative institute in the area where patients can be transferred. These patients require special conditions that cannot be recreated. Transferring hospital patients is complicated and dangerous at the best of times. Under the current conditions in Gaza, the danger is mortal.

No prizes for guessing what happened next to the hospital, or at a-Shuj’iyeh more generally for that matter.

In another incident, Israel bombed a house with no warning. It killed 17 members of the al-Batsh family. Their ages ranged from 2 to 59.

How can any normal person see Israel kill hundreds of civilians and not feel outrage?

How can any person with an ounce of compassion support the deliberate and wilful bombings of hospitals, including those specialising in helping people with disabilities?

How can someone defend the bombing of a home packed with family members?

The Israeli government, in defending the indefensible, has its work cut out for it. And so we see some of the most obscene, cynical and audacious propaganda one is likely to see for a while.

Take one example: a graphic produced by the Israeli army, distributed by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, whose chief executive remains the chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission.

In reporting on “Hamas terror”, the graphic attributes Hamas terrorists to “residential areas”, “schools and mosques”, “hospitals and ambulances”, and of course, civilians supposedly being used as human shields.

The point of this is clear: if all these targets are infested with terrorists, then how can one object to Israel bombing schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, residential areas and civilians in general?

They’re just fighting “terrorists”.

It provides no proof for these claims, but then, it’s propaganda, not a human rights report.

And so the Western media provides balance, and reports “both sides” of Israel bombing hospitals and family homes, because Israel claims there are terrorists there, and if it kills civilians – well, there were terrorists nearby says the Israeli army.

Someone else might say something different, but who really knows where the truth lies?

Of course, even if the factual claim were accepted, that would still not legitimise bombing a target like a hospital.

If Israeli bombing weapons cannot distinguish between civilians and military targets, those weapons are indiscriminate and should not be used.

If a criminal was holding a hostage, a police officer who used a grenade and killed them both would not be praised for killing the criminal, but criticised for using a reckless weapon that needlessly killed the innocent hostage.

This crime would be exacerbated if the police officer used force, when non-violent options were on the table and not exhausted.

Israel has not come close to exhausting its options. The reason it is resorting to force is because it refuses to agree to diminish its oppression of the Palestinians by ending the blockade on Gaza.

Rockets from Gaza have so far killed two Israeli civilians. One of those killed was a Bedouin,living in one of the dozens of villages Israel refuses to recognise and thus provide basic services.

Their villages do not have bomb shelters, unlike Jewish villages and cities in Israel. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel submitted an urgent request that bomb shelters be built for them.

In court, the “state expressed its position that there is no need to provide additional protective facilities to these communities, and advised the Bedouin residents to protect themselves by lying on the ground”.

One imagines that Jewish Israelis would not be asked to protect themselves from rockets by “lying on the ground”, but plainly, the Israeli government regards their lives as worth protecting.

Or let us turn to perhaps the most obscene comment yet by Netanyahu.

Whilst some might look at the pictures of the dead and suffering in Gaza with compassion, he urged us not to do so.

He explained that Hamas “want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can… They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”

So whilst, technically, Israel is killing hundreds of Palestinians, you shouldn’t feel sorry for them, because that’s just playing into the hands of the terrorists.

And whilst, yes, technically, there are dead Palestinians, we’re only seeing the “telegenically” dead Palestinians, because the terrorists only want you to see the ones that make you feel compassion.

If you saw the ordinary dead Palestinians, the ones who aren’t telegenic, you’d presumably understand that they’re terrorists and deserved to die. Or were near terrorists and deserved to die.

The crucial part is that you shouldn’t feel sorry for them – and the constant association of Palestinians with terrorists in Israel propaganda, and throughout most Israeli media – is crucial to this end.

That Western media allows this racist propaganda to infect our public discourse is yet another of their shameful contributions to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.

Given that the UN Human Rights Council is set to soon debate Israel’s attack on Gaza, it is worth revisiting a previous report into an Israeli attack on Gaza instigated by the Human Rights Council, the Goldstone Report.

The Goldstone Report chronicled at length Israel’s systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza and deliberate murder of civilians in numerous incidents.

It also chronicled numerous statements by Israeli officials supporting the deliberate targeting of civilians.

It argued that Israel developed a new particularly brutal policy recently:

In its operations in southern Lebanon in 2006, there emerged from Israeli military thinking a concept known as the Dahiya doctrine, as a result of the approach taken to the Beirut neighbourhood of that name. Major General Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli Northern Command chief, expressed the premise of the doctrine:

“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

Major General Eisenkot is presently Israel’s deputy chief of staff.

His doctrine was developed by others after the war. For example:

Major General (Ret.) Giora Eiland has argued that, in the event of another war with Hizbullah, the target must not be the defeat of Hizbullah but “the elimination of the Lebanese military, the destruction of the national infrastructure and intense suffering among the population… Serious damage to the Republic of Lebanon, the destruction of homes and infrastructure, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people are consequences that can influence Hizbollah’s behaviour more than anything else”.

Note: “intense suffering among the population”. The “suffering of hundreds of thousands of people”, as policy that would achieve political goals.

The report summarised the military doctrine that Israel developed, as causing “disproportionate destruction and creating maximum disruption in the lives of many people as a legitimate means to achieve military and political goals.”

The report went on to note that “Statements by political and military leaders prior to and during the military operations in Gaza leave little doubt that disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians were part of a deliberate policy.”

For example, it notes:

On 6 January 2009, during the military operations in Gaza, Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai stated: “It [should be] possible to destroy Gaza, so they will understand not to mess with us”.

He added that “it is a great opportunity to demolish thousands of houses of all the terrorists, so they will think twice before they launch rockets”. “I hope the operation will come to an end with great achievements and with the complete destruction of terrorism and Hamas.

In my opinion, they should be razed to the ground, so thousands of houses, tunnels and industries will be demolished”.

He added that “residents of the South are strengthening us, so the operation will continue until a total destruction of Hamas [is achieved]”.

On 2 February 2009, after the end of the military operations, Eli Yishai added: “Even if the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired.”

The report went on to note:

Major Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson of the Israeli armed forces, reportedly argued “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.” The deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, [said] ‘We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings. […] We are hitting government buildings, production factories, security wings and more. We are demanding governmental responsibility from Hamas and are not making distinctions between the various wings. After this operation there will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the rules of the game.’

 

Israeli armed forces’ spokesman Captain Benjamin Rutland reportedly stated: “Our definition is that anyone who is involved with terrorism within Hamas is a valid target. This ranges from the strictly military institutions and includes the political institutions that provide the logistical funding and human resources for the terrorist arm.”

The report notes that Israel’s “concept of Hamas’ “supporting infrastructure” is particularly worrying as it appears to transform civilians and civilian objects into legitimate targets.” It concluded:

The framing of the military objectives Israel sought to strike is thus very wide indeed.

 

There is, in particular, a lack of clarity about the concept of promoting “terrorist activity”: since Israel claims there is no real division between civilian and military activities and it considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization, it would appear that anyone who supports Hamas in any way may be considered as promoting its terrorist activity.

 

Hamas was the clear winner of the latest elections in Gaza. It is not far-fetched for the Mission to consider that Israel regards very large sections of the Gazan civilian population as part of the “supporting infrastructure”.

The report went on to observe that Israel’s military attack on Gaza should be put on a continuum with its blockade on Gaza, which it characterised as a form of “collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip.”

The indiscriminate and disproportionate impact of the restrictions on the movement of goods and people indicates that, from as early as some point in 2007, Israel had already determined its view about what constitutes attacking the supporting infrastructure, and it appears to encompass effectively the population of Gaza.

The continuum can be explained, in that Israel, “rather than fighting the Palestinian armed groups operating in Gaza in a targeted way, has chosen to punish the whole Gaza Strip and the population in it with economic, political and military sanctions.”

It also observed that:

It is clear from evidence gathered by the Mission that the destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a deliberate and systematic policy by the Israeli armed forces. It was not carried out because those objects presented a military threat or opportunity, but to make the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population…

 

Allied to the systematic destruction of the economic capacity of the Gaza Strip, there appears also to have been an assault on the dignity of the people… the Mission concludes that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.

Though Richard Goldstone, the lead author of the report, went on to distance himself from the report in the wake of intense pressure on himself and his family from elements of the South African Jewish community, the substance of the report remains unchallenged.

When debating the report, whilst he still believed in it, he expressed disgust that Israel was pretending to investigate “itself behind closed doors! That’s not a legal system! That’s not a judicial system. That’s not justice at all.” And in nine months, “What’s been the result? One conviction, for the theft of a credit card! I mean, that’s demeaning of the victims in Gaza.”

Subsequently, two more convictions followed. Two Israeli soldiers forced a nine-year-old boy to act as a human shield. Their punishment was demotion, and three months suspended sentences for forcing the child to look through bags they thought were booby-trapped.

The court claimed that they did not seek to degrade or humiliate the boy, and also regarded it as a mitigating circumstance that the soldiers were tired.

It is worth remembering the farcical non-punishment accorded to Israeli soldiers who used a Palestinian child as a human shield, every time you hear professional liars for the Israeli government solemnly explain that Palestinians use other Palestinians as human shields, as though that justifies murdering them.

Considering that Israel doesn’t think it’s severe enough of a crime to warrant a prison sentence, it should be asked why it warrants the murder not only of the alleged people using others as human shields, but also the murder of the human shields themselves.

But let us return to the words of Mr Netanyahu. He has condemned what he calls “the cruelest, most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen.”

Remember that Israel has killed about 95 per cent of those who have been killed in this “war”. You decide for yourself who is responsible for the cruelty and grotesqueness that is occurring.

A final point should be made. The Goldstone Report meticulously recorded Israeli war crimes. But its recommendations were ignored.

As long as Israel can act with impunity, it will continue launching deliberately disproportionate attacks designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.

It is up to people like us to make sure that Israel is held accountable, to end the

appalling suffering it is once again inflicting on the Palestinians in Gaza.

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| #ExposingTruth: FAQ: Misperceptions about the Conflict in #Gaza!

FAQ: Misperceptions about the Conflict in GazaThe Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU)July 23, 2014. 

FAQ:

Q – What caused this latest outburst of violence?

DB –  “As soon as the Palestinian Authority national unity government was announced in April, Israel set its sights on destroying it.  It did so by first pressing for the government’s isolation and, when that failed, it used the deaths of three Israelis (kidnapped in an area of the West Bank that is entirely under Israel’s control) to demonize Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  Within 18 days of the Israelis going missing, Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank including 11 Parliamentarians and 59 former prisoners who were released in a prisoner exchange three years ago.  These people were arrested without any proof that these individuals were in any way involved in the deaths of the three Israelis.  In addition, Israel killed 10 Palestinians, including three children in the West Bank and demolished three houses.  Israel launched air raids on the Gaza Strip, as documented by the UN, killing two, including a 10-year-old child.  This happened before a single Hamas rocket was fired from Gaza.  When Israel failed to break up the unity government diplomatically, it turned to a brutal military attack.  What is clear is that the status quo is not the answer.  Returning to the 2012 ceasefire will not work as it was easily abused by Israel.”

GB – “Israel instrumentalized the tragic deaths of three Israeli youths, abducted and killed on June 12, to attack Hamas in the West Bank and disrupt Palestinian national reconciliation – a goal it had failed to achieve diplomatically. Israel arrested more than 400, searched 2,200 homes and other sites, and killed at least nine Palestinians in the process. We now know that Israel concealed evidence the youths were killed virtually immediately after abduction, and incited Israeli public opinion to a frenzy, directly leading to the brutal immolation of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. These cynical acts led to the escalation of violence along the Gaza border.”

NH – “Israel used the June 12 kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenage settlers to launch a brutal Israeli crackdown on the West Bank and East Jerusalem that human rights organizations have condemned as collective punishment. Israel particularly targeted Hamas members despite the lack of evidence and the organization’s denial of responsibility. The real target was the national unity agreement achieved by Hamas.

“The truth is, though, that this all-out Israeli assault on Gaza would have happened sooner or later. Israelis call their approach to Gaza “mowing the grass”. That is, they must attack and weaken Hamas every two or three years, even though Hamas has proven willing and able to respect a ceasefire, including by reining in other factions. This is one of the ways Israel “manages” its occupation and colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its occupation and siege of Gaza.”

 

Q – Is Israel acting in self-defense?

DB – “No. Israel cannot claim self-defense owing to the fact that it initiated the assault on the Gaza Strip and continues to maintain a brutal military occupation over the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank). Rather, Israel has an obligation under international law to protect Palestinians living under its military rule.”

GB – “Self-defense may not be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its violent assault on Hamas in the West Bank.”

NH – “No. A member state of the United Nations that has signed international conventions pledging to respect the laws of war has no right to indiscriminately attack civilians and civilian infrastructure. The very high number of Palestinian civilian casualties – men, women, children – give the lie to Israel’s claims to self-defense, as does Hamas’ proven willingness to uphold a ceasefire.

“Moreover, Israel cannot claim self-defense against a people whose land it has been militarily occupying and colonizing for decades, part of whose population it has placed under siege. Only a ceasefire can protect Palestinians and Israelis alike, and only an end to the occupation and siege can pave the way to a permanent peace.

“Hamas should also refrain from targeting civilian infrastructure but it is not a UN-member state and has not signed conventions binding it to uphold international law.”

 

Q – Is Israel attacking “Hamas targets”?

DB – “No. Israel appears to be attacking civilian homes and civilian infrastructure. To date, according to UN estimates, 80 percent of those killed are civilians, including over 150 children. Israel has bombed hospitals, schools and mosques – all illegitimate targets under international law. More than 2,000 homes and entire neighborhoods have been destroyed by Israel’s attacks. This is inconsistent with international law. Civilian structures, such as homes, are only lawful targets when they are being used for military purposes. The Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention on the Law of War provides that, ‘in case of doubt whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.’ While Israel has argued that Palestinian homes are command centers, Human Rights Watch has dismissed those claims.

“Attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants are illegal. Using Israel’s logic, this also means that any home of any past or present Israeli soldier or police officer is a legitimate target or any civilian area where military is present (such as the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv).  Clearly, this is not acceptable.

“This is not a video game in which the Israeli army is allowed to hunt down anyone associated with Hamas, irrespective of whether they are a combatant and without regard for civilian infrastructure.”

GB – “Israel appears to be categorizing any upper-level Hamas member as a ‘combatant,’ regardless of function. For example, it deliberately targeted Gaza police chief Taysir al-Batsh, injuring him and killing 18 members of his family, while he visited his cousin’s home. Police are civilians in international law, and this, on the face of it, appears to have been a clear war crime. So, likely, are the many other attacks that have been launched against private homes, although definitive conclusions must be left to further investigation. Israel has also attacked hospitals, water treatment facilities and sewer lines, and other civilian infrastructure that has nothing to do with Hamas. In fact, despite Israel’s claims to respect the international legal requirement of distinction between military targets and civilians, its actions speak of a policy to deliberately kill civilians as a means of weakening Hamas politically.”

NH – “No. The figures of civilian dead and injured undermine this claim. Compare the 433 Palestinian civilians killed by July 22 according to UN figures, out of an overall total of over 640 Palestinians killed, to two Israeli civilians killed.”

Q – Why has Hamas declined to accept a ceasefire?

DB – “Hamas and other factions were not consulted on the ceasefire proposal; Egypt was.  Egypt does not represent or speak on behalf of Palestine or Palestinians; only Palestinians do. It is silly to think that any progress can be made without a major party to the agreement present at the table. Moreover, Israel has currently rejected a humanitarian cease-fire to allow much-needed supplies into the Gaza Strip and to allow Palestinians to bury their dead.”

GB – “Hamas declined to accept a ceasefire offer about which it had not been consulted and which failed to meet basic requirements of fairness. Within 24 hours, however, Hamas and other Palestinian groups offered Israel a ten-year truce that would have ended Israel’s siege against the Gaza Strip, thus guaranteeing long-term stability in the region. Israel had not responded to that offer, but appears to prefer to periodically ‘mow the lawn.’”

NH – “Hamas is willing to accept a ceasefire, but one that would be respected by Israel and that would lift the siege on Gaza. The Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority of whom are civilians, as well as the members of Hamas or other factions, have since 2007 faced the choice between a slow death or a quick one. Either they die through ill health and disease due to lack of potable water, poor nutrition, and lack of medical care as a result of the draconian siege imposed by Israel on Gaza that has also been upheld by Egypt. Or they die quickly when Israel decides to ‘mow the lawn.’

“Until the border crossings are open for the movement of people and goods, the Gaza Palestinians will be forced to live without the most basic rights.”

 

Q – Does Hamas use Palestinians as human shields?

DB – “The Gaza Strip is an area that is 26 miles (40 km) long and seven miles (12 km) wide at its widest point. With nearly 1.8 million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Moreover, prior to this attack, 35 percent of the Gaza Strip was off limits – by threat of death – to Palestinians with Israel maintaining a ‘no-go’ zone in these areas.  That said, while Hamas fights from within this small area, it does not use Palestinian civilians as cover. To date, international investigations have concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate these long-made Israeli claims and yet the claims continue to be accepted by many, unchallenged. Ironically, the converse has been well-established: Israel has used Palestinian civilians as human shields when carrying out its military operations.”

GB – “Hamas fights from within inhabited areas, as it must in the densely populated Gaza Strip. But few allegations that Hamas deliberately endangers civilians in order to escape attack have ever been substantiated. The claim seems designed to ‘blame the victim.’ Certainly, Palestinians themselves are perfectly clear that it is Israel that is spilling Palestinian blood.”

NH – “Israel has declared 44% of the Gaza Strip – an area less than half the size of New York City – a military “buffer zone.” Who is using whom as a human shield?”

 

Q – Does the Israel military take all possible precautions to prevent civilian casualties?

DB – “No. The ‘knock on the roof’ procedure – dropping a missile on a house in advance of its bombing – has resulted in deaths. According to Philip Luther of Amnesty International, ‘There is no way that firing a missile at a civilian home can constitute an effective “warning.” Amnesty International has documented cases of civilians killed or injured by such missiles in previous Israeli military operations on the Gaza Strip,’ he said.

“In addition, while Israel claims that it distributes leaflets, these leaflets do not tell people where they are to go to be safe.  As noted by Israeli human rights organizations, ‘Dispersal of leaflets does not grant the military permission to consider the area as if it were so-called “sterile,” assume that no civilians were left in the area and then proceed to attack civilian sites. The military must not assume that all residents have indeed left their homes.’

“Moreover, Israel claims that the Iron Dome defense system has been effective at preventing Israeli civilian deaths. Given this claim and given that the number of Israeli civilian casualties is 2 (as compared to 650 Palestinian deaths), it is clear that there are alternative means to address any rockets launched toward Israel without harming civilians in the process.”

GB – “Of course not, as several responses above indicate. Warnings to civilians to leave areas when they have no effective refuge are meaningless, and a number of Palestinians, including three boys of the Shuhaibar family, have been killed by Israel’s practice of ‘knocking on the roof’ – that is, firing what is supposed to be a warning missile before heavier ordnance is used.”

NH – “Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. It is impossible to hit it from air, land, and sea without killing hundreds of civilians. The only way to prevent the killing and injuring of Gaza civilians is a ceasefire – and Hamas has honored past ceasefires. And the only way to achieve peace is through an agreement that ends Israel’s occupation and colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza and respects other Palestinian rights long denied.”

Experts:

Diana Buttu, Human rights attorney, Ramallah-based analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators, and Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.

George Bisharat,
 Professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, and former legal consultant to the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Nadia Hijab, Director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

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