| 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-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts!

Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts ~ PATRICK COCKBURN, The Independent.

World View: The slickness of Israel’s spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz!

Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire. But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed.

There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.

Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked “not for distribution or publication” and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled “The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its “dos and don’ts” for Israeli spokesmen.

These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.

Mark Regev

Mark Regev

The booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for different audiences. For example, the study says that “Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel’s right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89 per cent to under 60 per cent when you talk about it in terms of 1967.”

How about the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who are not allowed to go back to their homes? Here Dr Luntz has subtle advice for spokesmen, saying that “the right of return is a tough issue for Israelis to communicate effectively because much of Israeli language sounds like the ‘separate but equal’ words of the 1950s segregationists and the 1980s advocates of Apartheid. The fact is, Americans don’t like, don’t believe and don’t accept the concept of ‘separate but equal’.”

So how should spokesmen deal with what the booklet admits is a tough question? They should call it a “demand”, on the grounds that Americans don’t like people who make demands. “Then say ‘Palestinians aren’t content with their own state. Now they’re demanding territory inside Israel’.” Other suggestions for an effective Israeli response include saying that the right of return might become part of a final settlement “at some point in the future”.

Dr Luntz notes that Americans as a whole are fearful of mass immigration into the US, so mention of “mass Palestinian immigration” into Israel will not go down well with them. If nothing else works, say that the return of Palestinians would “derail the effort to achieve peace”.

The Luntz report was written in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, when 1,387 Palestinians and nine Israelis were killed.

There is a whole chapter on “isolating Iran-backed Hamas as an obstacle to peace”. Unfortunately, come the current Operation Protective Edge, which began on 6 July, there was a problem for Israeli propagandists because Hamas had quarrelled with Iran over the war in Syria and had no contact with Tehran. Friendly relations have been resumed only in the past few days – thanks to the Israeli invasion.

Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz

Much of Dr Luntz’s advice is about the tone and presentation of the Israeli case. He says it is absolutely crucial to exude empathy for Palestinians: “Persuadables [sic] won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show Empathy for BOTH sides!” This may explain why a number of Israeli spokesman are almost lachrymose about the plight of Palestinians being pounded by Israeli bombs and shells.

In a sentence in bold type, underlined and with capitalisation, Dr Luntz says that Israeli spokesmen or political leaders must never, ever justify “the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children” and they must aggressively challenge those who accuse Israel of such a crime. Israeli spokesmen struggled to be true to this prescription when 16 Palestinians were killed in a UN shelter in Gaza last Thursday.

There is a list of words and phrases to be used and a list of those to be avoided. Schmaltz is at a premium: “The best way, the only way, to achieve lasting peace is to achieve mutual respect.” Above all, Israel’s desire for peace with the Palestinians should be emphasised at all times because this what Americans overwhelmingly want to happen. But any pressure on Israel to actually make peace can be reduced by saying “one step at a time, one day at a time”, which will be accepted as “a commonsense approach to the land-for-peace equation”.

Dr Luntz cites as an example of an “effective Israeli sound bite” one which reads: “I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

The study admits that the Israeli government does not really want a two-state solution, but says this should be masked because 78 per cent of Americans do. Hopes for the economic betterment of Palestinians should be emphasised.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted with approval for saying that it is “time for someone to ask Hamas: what exactly are YOU doing to bring prosperity to your people”. The hypocrisy of this beggars belief: it is the seven-year-old Israeli economic siege that has reduced the Gaza to poverty and misery.

On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not. Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace.

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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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| UK Access to Justice: Draft Transparency and Accountability Bill 2014 launched!

The Draft Transparency and Accountability Bill 2014 has been launched today. ~ John Hemming MP.

The objective of the bill, which is to have its second reading on 17th October 2014, is to make a number of improvements to public services and the courts.  The short title is as follows:

“A Bill to make provisions to improve the transparency and accountability of the public, including the courts, and private sectors when relating to ensuring that the numbers of miscarriages of justice are reduced and public services are improved.”

The bill is available on MP John Hemming’s website here:
http://www.john.hemming.name/taab2014v1.pdf

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| #ResistIllegalOccupation: A legal and moral case for Hamas rocket fire!

A legal and moral case for Hamas rocket fire ~ Jonathan Cook, the Blog from Nazareth.

 

Two leading intellectuals make separate and eloquent cases that the people of Gaza have the right to resist by any means – including by firing rockets – Israel’s efforts to slowly extinguish their right to self-determination, and possibly to life itself. They argue that the Palestinians have this right most certainly at a moral level, but also almost certainly at the level of international law.

I recommend reading each article in its entirety but, knowing the constraints on readers’ time and attention, I have extracted the most salient points they make.

Norman Finkelstein:

It is not altogether clear what constitutes an indiscriminate weapon [a reference to Human Rights Watch’s judgment that all Palestinian rockets from Gaza are war crimes by definition because they are not “precise”]. The apparent standard is a relative one set by the available technology: If an existing weapon has a high probability of hitting its target, then any weapons with a significantly lower probability are classified as indiscriminate. But, by this standard, only rich countries, or countries rich enough to purchase high-tech weapons, have a right to defend themselves against high-tech aerial assaults. It is a curious law that would negate the raison d’être of law: the substitution of might by right. …

The United States and Britain, among others, have staunchly defended the right of a state to use nuclear weapons by way of belligerent reprisal. By this standard, the people of Gaza surely have the right to use makeshift projectiles to end an illegal, merciless seven-year-long Israeli blockade or to end Israel’s criminal bombardment of Gaza’s civilian population. Indeed, in its landmark 1996 advisory opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons, the [International Court of Justice] ruled that international law is not settled on the right of a state to use nuclear weapons when its “survival” is at stake. But, if a state might have the right to use nuclear weapons when its survival is at stake, then surely a people struggling for self-determination has the right to use makeshift projectiles when it has been subjected to slow death by a protracted blockade and recurrent massacres. …

Fully 95 percent of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption. By all accounts, the Palestinian people now stand behind those engaging in belligerent reprisals against Israel. In the Gaza Strip, they prefer to die resisting than to continue living under an inhuman blockade. Their resistance is mostly notional, as makeshift projectiles cause little damage. So, the ultimate question is, Do Palestinians have the right to symbolically resist slow death punctuated by periodic massacres, or must they lie down and die?

 

Chris Hedges:

If Israel insists, as the Bosnian Serbs did in Sarajevo, on using the weapons of industrial warfare against a helpless civilian population then that population has an inherent right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The international community will have to either act to immediately halt Israeli attacks and lift the blockade of Gaza or acknowledge the right of the Palestinians to use weapons to defend themselves. …

Violence, even when employed in self-defense, is a curse. It empowers the ruthless and punishes the innocent. It leaves in its aftermath horrific emotional and physical scars. But, as I learned in Sarajevo during the 1990s Bosnian War, when forces bent on your annihilation attack you relentlessly, and when no one comes to your aid, you must aid yourself. When Sarajevo was being hit with 2,000 shells a day and under heavy sniper fire in the summer of 1995 no one among the suffering Bosnians spoke to me about wanting to mount nonviolent resistance. …

The number of dead in Gaza resulting from the Israeli assault has topped 650, and about 80 percent have been civilians. The number of wounded Palestinians is over 4,000 and a substantial fraction of these victims are children. At what point do the numbers of dead and wounded justify self-defense? 5,000? 10,000? 20,000? At what point do Palestinians have the elemental right to protect their families and their homes? …

The Palestinians will reject, as long as possible, any cease-fire that does not include a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. They have lost hope that foreign governments will save them. They know their fate rests in their own hands. The revolt in Gaza is an act of solidarity with the world outside its walls. It is an attempt to assert in the face of overwhelming odds and barbaric conditions the humanity and agency of the Palestinian people. There is little in life that Palestinians can choose, but they can choose how to die.

PalSol5

 

#Call4Action: Arab and Islamic countries not providing help to Gaza need their leaders removed now!

 

 

| #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.

PAL EQUALITY 4

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| DOCUMENT: #ANC calls #Israeli ambassador to leave South Africa!

DOCUMENT: ANC calls Israeli ambassador to leave the countryPublished on 22 July 2014, Written by The African National Congress in Parliament (ANC).

Following nationwide protests across South Africa against the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza (Israel has killed over 400 Palestinians including 100 children in the last 10 days) the ANC in Parliament has called for the Israeli ambassador in South Africa to leave with immediate effect. The ANC must implement this and the decision to recall the South African Ambassador from Tel Aviv with urgency.


The ANC has called for the Israeli ambassador in South Africa to leave the country immediately

The ANC has called for the Israeli ambassador in South Africa to leave the country immediately

The African National Congress in Parliament is extremely outraged by the wanton and unjustifiable bombardment and killings of innocent civilians, including children, in Palestinian territory of Gaza by Israel military forces. We echo the widespread condemnation of these senseless attacks on defenceless Palestinians and call on the government of Israel to immediately cease with this blatant act of criminality.

It is unacceptable that as the Israeli military is flagrantly violating the territorial integrity of Gaza, claiming hundreds of lives and injuring thousands, the United Nations Security Council fails to intervene decisively in line with its powers. The office of the UN Secretary General issues statements which have not effect. The UN Security Council must stand up and act to support vulnerable Palestinian people at the time when they need their protection. The situation involving Palestine and Israel is an undeclared war, in which the aggressor, Israel, has destroyed the Palestinian economy, robbed people of their land, unilaterally changed borders, and unilaterally built a wall of exclusion
to keep Palestinians out of their land. When it feels provoked, it unleashes the most sophisticated military hardware on a defenceless people. Palestinians have been reduced to cheap labour for the Israel economy. This relentless destruction of the Palestinian territory and its people by Israel must be stopped. The international community needs to act in unison on this matter.

As the ANC in Parliament, we stand unapologetically with the people of Palestine and pro-Palestinian campaigners in an endeavour to exert pressure on Israel’s government to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions and stop its killings and gross persecution of Palestinian people. We remain resolute in our view that the only long lasting peaceful solution to the situation in the Middle East is the attainment of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine in which the two states exist side by side independently and peacefully.

Our strong condemnation of Israel’s violent aggression, however, does not in any way mean approval of the continuing firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel, which has put the lives of innocent civilians at risk.  We echo the call by the South African government for both parties to end all forms of aggression towards one another.

The ANC in Parliament will mobilise other political formations in this institution to take a principled stand against the criminal acts of Israel and further to ensure that Parliament as an institution formally condemns the deadly violence visited upon the people of Palestine. We will also invite other parties to the lunchtime picketing outside Parliament in support of the people of Palestine and in calling for peace in the Middle East region. As one of the measures to put pressure on Israel, we are of a firm view that our government must recall our ambassador to Israel and also ask the Israel ambassador to South African to leave with immediate effect.

During this International Nelson Mandela Day in which South Africans and the world are called upon to engage in noble acts in emulation of the world icon, we align ourselves with his profound statement that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

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UN rights council launches probe into Israel’s Gaza offensive ~ Ma’an News Agency.

GENEVA (AFP) — The UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday launched a probe into Israel’s Gaza offensive, backing efforts by the Palestinians to hold Israel up to international scrutiny.

The 46-member council backed a Palestinian-drafted resolution by 29 votes, with Arab and fellow Muslim countries joined by China, Russia, and Latin American and African nations.

The United States was the sole member to vote against, while European countries abstained.

Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” has left over 650 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians. Over 4,000 Palestinians have been injured.

Thirty-one Israelis, all but two of them soldiers, have also died in the fighting, in addition to a foreign civilian worker who died Wednesday after being hit by mortar fire in southern Israel.

| ‘We have nothing left to lose. I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce’: Palestinian youth demand justice!

‘We have nothing left to lose. I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce’: Palestinian youth demand justice ~ , Mondoweiss.

I awoke Sunday morning to news of a massacre in Gaza that evoked memories of Sabra and Shatila – not in terms of absolute numbers, but in the nature of its brutality.  An estimated 60 Palestinians had been killed, more than 300 injured and hundreds more forced to flee their homes as Israeli troops and tanks barreled into Shejaiya, a neighborhood in eastern Gaza City. Spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra reported that Israeli forces had denied ambulances access to the houses under siege, saying that the area was a “closed military zone.”

Palestinian youths gesture during a demonstration next to the security fence standing on the Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, on November 23 2012. (Photo: AFP - Said Khatib)

And yet. amidst the reports of destruction, pain and loss, there were Facebook posts like this one from Malaka Mohammed, a young woman from the same Gazan neighborhood who is studying international law in the UK: “Watching Al-Jazeera and my friends and relatives among the casualties. And still strong. I have not seen my family as strong as today. We will never give up till we get our freedom.” For an hour and a half, her father refused to evacuate, even as the bombs were landing at a rate her neighbor described as “more than three in one second.”

In a post the day before, from the Jabalya refugee camp, Sarah Ali (a contributor to a collection of short stories called Gaza Writes Back) wrote: “Last night was horrible. My house shook every five minutes! Except for half an hour in the evening, we’ve been without electricity for over 48 hours. Due to the long blackout, we had no water as well. The Israelis have (again) bombed a main power generator that supplies electricity to many areas. There was Israeli shelling from the sea, air and land. I could hear the kids in our neighbors’ houses crying in terror all night. This is not about destroying Hamas; this is about destroying every Palestinian in Gaza, destroying our lives, crushing our dignity and morale. Let it be known to (Israel) that the more they kill and destroy, the stronger we become. We have nothing left to lose. Now I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce. No justice, no peace.”

In dozens of conversations with other youth in Gaza (who make up 65 percent of the population of nearly 1.8 million), the opinion was nearly universal: Despite their heavy losses and the gross imbalance of power, they do not want a ceasefire that merely stops the immediate fighting and promises to open negotiations on their other grievances. (The Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s control in some fashion for 47 years, but with suffocating intensity since 2007. Israel strictly limits travel in and out; controls the supplies that come in, including a ban on most construction materials; and prohibits virtually all exports, thus crippling the economy and triggering one of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the Arab world.)

No. What they insist on – demand – is a ceasefire tied to an end to their repression, even if it means more death and destruction for their people. Life is meaningless, they say, if it is spent under the boot of an oppressor.  My conclusion after numerous interviews with ordinary youth, from one end of Gaza to the other? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his spokesmen are wrong when they accuse Hamas of ordering a sheep-like people to act as human shields or to remain in their homes in the face of warnings to evacuate. The decisions of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza to stay in their homes until they were literally forced to leave were for some an act of desperation, saying they had nowhere else to go. (UN schools already are crammed with 84,000 displaced individuals.) However, for many others, they were the principled actions of a proud, independent people. And when Hamas rejected the ceasefire unilaterally declared by Egypt and Israel, it had the support of the vast majority of residents.

“Honestly, most of the Gazan people are urging the resistance to continue fighting until they achieve our conditions – which is simply to be able to live as humans with freedom and dignity,” says Fadi Alshaer, a 29-year-old who studied English at the Islamic University of Gaza and lives in the Rafah area. “People here don’t believe that Israel will do anything to give us back our rights if they are not forced to.”

Ola Ziada, a 24-year-old news reporter and English instructor in Gaza’s Jabalya camp, is even stronger:   “If they accepted the ceasefire with no preconditions, then I would consider it a betrayal of the blood that has been shed, of the four kids who were murdered just for playing on the beach. We would rather die than go back to the way we were before, imprisoned and forbidden from enjoying what a human should have for a decent life. We have been negotiating for decades and we have gotten nothing. I believe this is the war to determine whether to be or not to be.”

Of course, there are others who have paid a dear price who reluctantly feel otherwise. Omar Mansour, who lives in a town in northern Gaza that has been hit particularly hard, believes the casualties are too high and an internationally negotiated ceasefire should be accepted, even with no pre-set conditions. After holding out even after the Red Crescent tried to help his family evacuate, Mansour finally accompanied his parents to the home of friends in Gaza City when two relatives were killed and much of his block was destroyed. Still, he says he will return in the next day or so, despite the continued violence in his area. “I’m not afraid of death. All I’m afraid of is to watch them destroying my lovely house,” he says.

Mansour doesn’t disagree, however, when Alshaer, Ziada and others point out that the only significant “wins” the Palestinians have ever achieved is not through pleas to the United Nations or international courts, but through rocket fire (such as the concessions achieved at the end of the 2012 “eight-day war”) or abductions of soldiers (Gilad Shalit is a case in point, who was released in return for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners).

Lest one think that these are the fantasies of young people not properly schooled in history or the lessons of life, consider these words of Haider Eid, associate professor of postcolonial and postmodern literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University:

“The urgent question facing us in Gaza is not just how to survive for today, but how to hold Israel accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights; how to stop the current escalation and the ongoing massacre and how to stop this from ever happening again.

“Knowing that the credible Goldstone report on suspected war crimes in Gaza in 2008-09, and reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are all ignored or undermined, there is a bitter awareness that we in Gaza can have no expectation of Israeli accountability for the current onslaught…What Palestine needs from the world today is not just a condemnation of the Gaza massacres and siege, but also a delegitimization of the ideology that produced this policy and justifies it morally and politically, just as the racist ideology of apartheid was delegitimized.”

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| #ICC: PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Deliberate Massacre’ in Gaza!

PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Deliberate Massacre’ in Gaza ~ Sandra Petrykowski, ABC NEWS.

 

PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi lashed out at Israel today over what she described as “war crimes” and the “deliberate massacre” of Palestinian civilians during Israel’s current ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Deliberate Massacre’ in Gaza
ABCNews.com

“This morning, it’s nothing short of a massacre, a deliberate massacre. War crimes committed daily. But now there is a deliberate shelling and bombing and destruction of whole areas, of residential areas,” Ashrawi said on “This Week.”

“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?” Ashrawi added in her extended interview with ABC’s Hamish Macdonald reporting today from Ramallah.

As of Sunday morning, more than 400 Palestinians have been killed – including at least 60 on Sunday alone – and more than 35,000 Gaza residents have been displaced since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, in response to Hamas rocket fire into Israel. Eighteen Israeli Defense Forces troops have been killed in the latest ground offensive into Gaza, now in its fourth day.

“Look there, there is no human being who cannot be affected by this. Unless you lose the last vestiges of humanity, you cannot allow this to go on. It has to stop,” Ashrawi said of the latest violence in Gaza. “And Mr. Obama, and the Congress, and everybody has to know that these are human beings. Think of your children. I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. I cannot tolerate to see torn limbs. I cannot see grown men break down and sob. I cannot see people – a whole nation in a state of trauma.”

READ: Benjamin Netanyahu: Hamas Committing ‘Double War Crime’; Rails Against ‘Mad Islamists’

Israel maintains that the goal of this latest incursion is to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure and terrorist tunnels leading into Israel, and says they give neighborhoods ample warning to evacuate. Ashrawi said the numbers of innocent victims are disproportionate because they are trapped.

“These are all human beings and they’re being abstracted and they’re being anonymously shelled by the strongest army in the region and they are defenseless,” Ashrawi said. “They are hemmed in by land, by air, by sea and then if they try to dig tunnels as a way out – what do you expect?”

As Israel intensified its ground operation in Gaza today, Ashrawi said the blame is being misplaced on the civilian population.

“If they respond in any way, they are not only labeled as terror targets, they are dehumanized, they are terrorized, and they’re being killed. It’s not just adding insult to injury, it’s just double and multiple murder. You’re maligning a whole nation, and you are giving Israel the time and the means to continue with these massacres and these war crimes. One day they will be held accountable.”

When Macdonald asked Ashrawi if Palestinians plan to apply to join the International Criminal Court to bring war crime charges against Israel, she said they plan to take that step, but she’d like to see the situation addressed by the international community before a legal case is prepared.

“I don’t believe the world has to wait until we do these things and until we prepare these cases,” Ashrawi said. “There has to be immediate intervention to provide the Palestinians with protecting, to curb the Israeli violations and to hold Israel accountable.”

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| truthaholics EDITORIAL

It must be conceded that the two-state solution is no longer viable due to relentless settlement expansionism (unless one pretends that two isolated apartheid-era bantustans can remotely resemble a sovereign nation.) Which, on scrutiny, simply provokes outrage.
 
Zionist settler/squatter hotshots stomping around the Holy Land, vandalising and killing at will are an insult to humanity and their cost to the rest of us is too high. 
 
Enough is enough.
Bring on one-state for all, from the river to the sea.
Repeal everything RACIST and simply espouse universal, democratic values.Those who don’t like it can quit.
But, let the refugees back.
They’re innocent, the genuinely aggrieved VICTIMS here, rendered voiceless and invisible, like those living under ILLEGAL OCCUPATION.
 
Which requires issuing equal passports to all – including the stateless hitherto unjustifiably excluded – but barring War Criminals, who get tried and face criminal prosecution. And, along the lines of post-apartheid South Africa, setting up a post-zionism Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be no bad thing either.

 

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