#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”


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#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

#CIA #Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou!

Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou ~  Thursday December 11, 2014, FIREDOGLAKE.

No one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The United States sanctioned acts of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memosdrafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

Some tortured prisoners were killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either. “Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths,” he said, “the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the U.S. government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.

John Kiriakou Alone

The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors who went to jail is former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one.

And of course, he didn’t torture anyone.

The charges against Kiriakou alleged that in answering questions from reporters about suspicions that the CIA tortured detainees in its custody, he violated the Espionage Act, once an obscure World War I-era law that aimed at punishing Americans who gave aid to the enemy. It was passed in 1917 and has been the subject of much judicial and Congressional doubt ever since. Kiriakou is one of six government whistleblowers who have been charged under the Act by the Obama administration. From 1917 until Obama came into office, only three people had ever charged in this way.

The Obama Justice Department claimed the former CIA officer “disclosed classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities.”

The charges resulted from a CIA investigation. That investigation was triggered by a filing in January 2009 on behalf of detainees at Guantanamo that contained classified information the defense had not been given through government channels, and by the discovery in the spring of 2009 of photographs of alleged CIA employees among the legal materials of some detainees at Guantanamo. According to onedescription, Kiriakou gave several interviews about the CIA in 2008. Court documents charge that he provided names of covert Agency officials to a journalist, who allegedly in turn passed them on to a Guantanamo legal team. The team sought to have detainees identify specific CIA officials who participated in their renditions and torture. Kiriakou was accused of providing the identities of CIA officers that may have allowed names to be linked to photographs.

The real “offense” in the eyes of the Obama administration was quite different. In 2007, Kiriakou became a whistleblower. He went on record as the first (albeit by then, former) CIA official to confirm the use of waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, and then to condemn it as torture. He specifically mentioned the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah in that secret prison in Thailand. Kiriakou also ran afoul of the CIA over efforts to clear for publication a book he had written about the Agency’s counterterrorism work.

If Kiriakou had actually tortured someone himself, even to death, there is no possibility that he would be in trouble. In the national security state that rules the roost in Washington, talking out of turn about a crime has become the only possible crime.

Facing decades away from his family and young children, Kiriakou agreed to a plea bargain and is still in prison serving a 30-month sentence.

Never Again

For years it was the policy of the United States of America to torture and abuse its enemies or, in some cases, simply suspected enemies. It has remained a U.S. policy, even under the Obama administration, to employ “extraordinary rendition” — that is, the sending of captured terror suspects to the jails of countries that are known for torture and abuse, an outsourcing of what we no longer want to do.

Techniques that the U.S. hanged men for at Nuremburg and in post-war Japan were employed and declared lawful. To embark on such a program with the oversight of the Bush administration, learned men and women had to have long discussions, with staffers running in and out of rooms with snippets of research to buttress the justifications being so laboriously developed. The CIA undoubtedly used some cumbersome bureaucratic process to hire contractors for its torture staff. The old manuals needed to beupdated, psychiatrists consulted, military survival experts interviewed, training classes set up.

Videotapes were made of the torture sessions and no doubt DVDs full of real horror were reviewed back at headquarters.

Torture techniques were even reportedly demonstrated to top officials inside the White House. Individual torturers who were considered particularly effective were no doubt identified, probably rewarded, and sent on to new secret sites to harm more people.

America just didn’t wake up one day and start slapping around some Islamic punk. These were not the torture equivalents of rogue cops. A system, a mechanism, was created. That we now can only speculate about many of the details involved and the extent of all this is a tribute to the thousands who continue to remain silent about what they did, saw, heard about, or were associated with. Many of them work now at the same organizations, remaining a part of the same contracting firms, the CIA, and the military. Our torturers.

What is it that allows all those people to remain silent? How many are simply scared, watched what happening to John Kiriakou and thought: not me, I’m not sticking my neck out to see it get chopped off.They’re almost pathetically forgivable, even if they are placing their own self-interest above that of their country.

But what about the others, the ones who remain silent about what they did or saw or aided and abetted in some fashion because they still think it was the right thing to do? The ones who will do it again when another frightened president asks them to? Or even the ones who enjoyed doing it?

The same Department of Justice that hunted down the one man who spoke against torture from the inside still maintains a special unit, 60 years after the end of WWII, dedicated to hunting down the last few at-large Nazis. They do that under the rubric of “never again.” The truth is that same team needs to be turned loose on our national security state. Otherwise, until we have a full accounting of what was done in our names by our government, the pieces are all in place for it to happen again. There, if you want to know, is the real horror.

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Peter Van Buren writes about current events at blog. His book,Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent, is available now from Amazon

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| #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.

Gaza-conflict-day-003B GazaHolocaust1 GazaBomb1

 

| #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”.

stop israeli war crimes

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.

| #WarCrimes: Israel’s cowardly “Knock on the Roof!”

Israel’s cowardly “Knock on the Roof” ~ Redress Information & Analysis.

We urge everyone who is disgusted by Israel’s sadistic slaughter of captive Palestinians in Gaza to write immediately to their MP or Senator enclosing the link to the video below (http://vimeo.com/93150954), which exposes the depths to which the Zionist occupier has sunk.

Please ask your MP or Senator to reply explaining what the government intends to do, as it cannot continue to shirk its sworn obligations and disgrace its people.

| Israel Lobby Tries (and fails) to Intimidate Another UK MP!

Israel Lobby Tries (and fails) to Intimidate Another UK MP ~ , deLiberation.

Here we go again.

On 8 July British MP ‘Battling’ Bob Russell was speaking during a House of Commons debate on the national curriculum in schools.

bob-russell-MP

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130708/debtext/130708-0002.htm ….

Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (Liberal Democrat):

“The Secretary of State referred to more coverage of world history. On the assumption that the 20th century will include the holocaust, will he give me an assurance that the life of Palestinians since 1948 will be given equal attention?”

Michael Gove, Education Secretary [and fervent Friend of Israel]:

“These are delicate waters, into which I fear to tread too definitively. One thing I would say is that there has been near universal welcome and support for the centrality of the holocaust and the unique evil inherent in the holocaust being in the national curriculum. Once one gets on to the position of the state of Israel after 1948, it is probably better if I step back. I have strong views on the matter and I would not wish to impose them on the curriculum.”

Sir Bob’s question was a “shoah slur”, screamed the Jewish Chronicle, and he immediately came under attack as reported here in Jewish News http://jewishnews.co.uk/lib-dem-mp-sir-bob-russell-condemned-for-shoah-comments/

Jeremy Newmark, of Britain’s Jewish Leadership Council said,

“These remarks are a shocking piece of Holocaust denigration. There is simply no comparison between the two situations. It is worrying that so soon after the David Ward affair another MP thinks it is acceptable to play fast and loose with the language of the Holocaust in this context.”

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, added:

“To try to equate the events of the Holocaust – the systematized mass murder of 6 million Jews – with the conflict in the Middle East is simply inaccurate as well as inappropriate.”

“Bob Russell is a fringe, marginal voice in the community. All parties have them sadly”,

said Gavin Stollar, chairman of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel.

Nobody is claiming equivalence in the numbers. But Palestinians, and indeed the wider world community, are entitled to feel there is nonetheless a disturbing comparison.

The word ‘holocaust’ is centuries old and has several meanings, one being “any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life”.  For those interested in the figures, Israel’s B’Tselem shows that between year 2000 and the start of Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ assault on Gaza in 2008 the Israelis’ vast standing army, equipped with the most advanced American-funded weaponry, killed 4,790 Palestinian civilians in their homeland. Of these, 952 were children. Yes, 952 young Palestinian lives horribly snuffed out and their parents left desolated.

The Palestinian resistance, with their primitive weapons, killed 490 Israeli civilians, including 84 children.  That’s a slaughter rate of 11 to 1 by the Israelis – reckless in anyone’s language. Since then Israel’s ‘destruction of life’ score has soared thanks to Operation Cast Lead (an act of infamy which slaughtered 1,400 Gazans, including 320 children and 109 women, horribly maimed thousands more, and is regarded by many as a holocaust in its own right) and the more recent Pillar of Cloud Operation as well as the countless air strikes in-between.

Although the Holocaust Education Trust and Zionists generally would like exclusive use of the H-word for Jewish victims, they must understand that there have been other holocausts besides the ‘Big One’ of World War 2. If there is such a thing as a Palestinian holocaust it is a slow motion one. The extermination may be on a smaller scale but is nevertheless of towering significance because it has been carried out in the Holy Land – of all places – and against Christians and Muslims.

There are at least three more reasons why it should be included in the British schools curriculum. Britain as the military power and subsequently the mandated power in the Holy Land was instrumental in creating the situation. The slaughter, deprivation and illegal occupation resulting from British duplicity is still going on after 65 years. And the intolerable mess we allowed to develop but took no action to resolve is a matter of deep national shame and a major cause of world unrest.

When researching for the book ‘Radio Free Palestine I asked my local education authority (Cambridgeshire, a leader in the UK) if the Arab-Israeli conflict and its causes were taught in school. The answer was no, unless you picked the Middle East option at A-level, and even then teaching only “scratched the surface”. So the book contains this passage:

“The truth about Palestine doesn’t sit well with Britain’s now crumbling reputation for fair play. Its name has been airbrushed from maps and purged, like a dirty word, from diplomatic lexicons. Even today the subject is only haphazardly taught in our schools. For older generations like mine it was never on the curriculum.”

In contrast, the Nazi holocaust against Jews is a compulsory subject in the history curriculum at all state secondary schools in England and the government has created a UK Envoy for post-Holocaust Issues. In 2008 the government and the Pears Foundation jointly funded a £1.5 million three-year national project to improve teaching and learning about the Holocaust.

Refusal to give the long-running crisis in the Holy Land proper emphasis in world history teaching is a denial of the Palestinian holocaust and the nakba (the ‘catastrophe’ of 1947-49 when nearly 750,000 Arabs were dispossessed of their homes, villages, towns and cities and driven into exile by Jewish terrorists and Israeli militia. Many died or were massacred in the process. Those who survived have not been allowed to return). Israel’s illegal military occupation is the longest in modern times with no prospect of ending while corrupt politicians rule the international scene.

British children must be given an opportunity to understand that Britain’s complicity in such a cruel state of affairs can never be tolerated again, just as they are already learning that Nazi atrocities at Auschwitz and elsewhere must never happen again. Bob Russell is surely right to call for the curriculum to give equal attention to the causes and effect of the Palestinians’ suffering and he should be applauded for seeking a balanced approach in these matters.

The big stink over David Ward

Complainer Jeremy Newmark (above) mentions the David Ward affair, referring to another Liberal Democrat MP who earlier made this remark on his website: “Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

Chiefs of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Board of Deputies of British Jews kicked up a huge fuss, loudly complaining that Ward “deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust” and his remarks were “sickening” and “offensive”.

The Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, agreed that Ward’s remarks were “wholly inappropriate” and that singling out ‘the Jews’ in that way crossed a red line.

For speaking out on the Israeli regime’s crimes Ward was treated like a delinquent and comprehensively humiliated. The Jewish Chronicle reportedhttp://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/102865/clegg-response-david-ward-%EF%AC%81g-leaf  that party leader Nick Clegg told Ward he must work alongside Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFoI) “to identify and agree language that will be proportionate and precise” in future debate. He should attend meetings with LDFoI representatives in order to achieve a better understanding of “the legitimate concern” that his comments caused within the wider Jewish community. Disciplinary steps would then be reviewed.

Gavin Stollar said: “LDFoI has essentially been appointed as probation officers for David Ward. If we are not convinced that he is salvageable then we’ll be in the position to report back to the leader and the chief whip and express our views. Rather than making him a martyr, LDFoI welcomes the opportunity to educate one of our MPs.”

There are no reports to show that Ward complied with any of this arrant nonsense.

And who is this upstart Stollar, who thinks it’s his place to re-educate elected members of the British Parliament? Here he is http://ldfi.org.uk/2011/10/11/chair-gavin-stollar-meets-tzipi-livni-after-lib-dems-secure-changes-to-universal-jurisdiction-law/  warmly shaking the bloody hand of Tzipi Livni, who is on several wanted lists for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, was largely responsible for the holocaust inflicted on innocent Palestinians, trapped in their tiny enclave with the borders sealed, over Christmas and New Year 2008/9. Her office afterwards issued a statement saying she was proud of her decisions in Operation Cast Lead, the murderous blitz she unleashed.

No-one, least of all ‘Battling’ Bob Russell or David Ward, need lectures or re-education from the likes of Stollar and his fellow stooges.

Stuart Littlewood

15 July 2013

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GerKaufmanTruth IntlLaw1 4Footballers

| Op-Edge + Blood for gas: Why Bibi is punishing Gaza!


Blood for gas: Why Bibi is punishing Gaza ~ Pepe Escobar, RT.

So Bibi’s got his brand new war. Operation Protective Edge, the current slow motion ethnic cleansing super production conducted in Gaza by the Israeli Attack, sorry, Defense Forces (IDF), is Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s wet dream.

A quick recap is essential. US Secretary of State John “Bullhorn” Kerry was conducting a sham exercise known as “peace talks” between Israel and Palestine. As expected, it failed miserably. Hamas and the PLO in Palestine then formed a technocratic unity government. Bibi was, predictably, furious.

Smoke billowing from buildings following an Israeli air strike as a projectile falls in the background in Gaza City.(AFP Photo / Jack Guez)

Smoke billowing from buildings following an Israeli air strike as a projectile falls in the background in Gaza City.(AFP Photo / Jack Guez)

Then two Palestinians – not Hamas – kidnapped three Israeli teenager settlers hitchhiking at night near Hebron. One of the hitchhikers somehow managed to call an Israeli police emergency number on his mobile. The kidnappers freaked out and shot the hitchhikers on the spot, dumping their bodies.

Then all of Israel freaked out. For three weeks, tens of thousands of soldiers were involved in search parties. The media went berserk – immolating Palestinians in a racist funeral pyre.

There’s wild speculation all across the Arab street this has been an Israeli false flag. Evidence, though, seems to point to the 10,000-strong Qawasmeh tribe in the Hebron region – which is known historically to openly antagonize Hamas and attack Israeli settlers. There’s also the possibility the kidnappers wanted to use the hitchhikers for an exchange with Palestinian prisoners.

Bibi and Shin Bet military intelligence knew from the start the three settlers were dead – and who was responsible. But Bibi simply could not pass up the opportunity to use the incident – during the frenzied three-week search – as a build-up to go after Hamas in both West Bank and Gaza, an operation planned way in advance.

This past Tuesday, the Israeli military spelled it all out: “We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard.” And in perfect Newspeak, the operation was branded a “just war.” (A detailed background to the conflict can be seen here.)

Palestinians gather around the remains of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 14, 2014.(Reuters / Mohammed Salem )

Palestinians gather around the remains of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 14, 2014.(Reuters / Mohammed Salem )

Israel wants it all

The numbers don’t do justice to the appalling carnage. By Monday, over northern Gaza, after Israel warned residents to leave the area to avoid airstrikes, at least 167 people were killed – the majority of them women, children and elderly civilians, 30 by Israeli rockets – and over 1,000 injured. Two hundred houses, not military installations, were totally destroyed and over 1,500 houses partially damaged.

Compare it to zero deaths in Israel. An IDF spokesperson gruesomely boasted that Gaza – a de facto slum/concentration camp – was being bombed every 4 1/2 minutes.

Each homemade rocket fired by the Palestinians cost less than $1,000. Meanwhile, a single Israeli Iron Dome missile supposed to intercept them costs up to $100,000 (without including the launching and control systems). On top of this, since Thursday a ground invasion has been dubbed “imminent.”

That Bibi is able to get away with this is all the Arab street – and most of the Global South – needs to know about America’s battleship/aircraft carrier in the Middle East. What most people don’t know about is those 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, worth at least $4 billion, discovered 14 years ago off the Gaza coast.

It’s easy to forget that at the time of Israel’s previous invasion of Gaza – Operation Cast Lead – gas fields in Palestine were outright confiscated by Israel. This “operation” was already an energy war, as Nafeez Ahmed analyzed here.

Then there is the Bigger Picture – the 122 trillion cubic feet of gas plus the potential 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin spread over the territorial waters of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and – of course – Gaza. These waters are as incandescently disputed as rocks and shoals in the South China Sea. Needless to say, Tel Aviv wants it all.

And to complement the picture, Israel faces an upcoming energy security nightmare, detailed here.

Even Tony Blair, the Phantom of the Opera, is involved. As the (failed) Quartet Middle East envoy, Blair came up with the brilliant plan of “developing” the Gaza gas fields via an agreement between British Gas and the Palestinian Authority, totally excluding Hamas and the people of Gaza.

The way Gaza is kept as a concentration camp, subjected to non-stop collective punishment, may be revolting enough. But then it must be added the key economic component: by all available means Gazans must be prevented from accessing the Marine-1 and Marine-2 gas fields. These will be gobbled up by Israel. From every angle, and for all practical purposes, Israel lords over all Palestinian natural resources – land, water and energy.

So here’s the “secret” of Operation Protect the Zionists, sorry, Protective Edge: without smashing Hamas, which controls Gaza, Israel cannot drill off the Gaza coast. For Bibi as well as the Knesset, the possibility that the Palestinians could have access to their own gas-generated wealth is an absolute red line.

And the EU may be on it as well. No one in Brussels will admit it, but it’s easy to conceive “strategists”regarding this takeover of Palestinian gas fields opening the door in the future for the EU being less dependent on Gazprom, and a substantial importer of (stolen) Israeli gas.

Israel’s Newspeak is old news; after all they are masters of fooling no one but themselves. Expandingon what Michael Klare has brilliantly detailed, the new, open-ended, collective punishment inflicted on Gaza is most of all a blood-for-gas energy war.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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| Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week!

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week ~ ROBERT FISK independent.co.uk.

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory.

OK, so by this afternoon, the exchange rate of death in two days was 40-0 in favour of Israel. But now for the Gaza story you won’t be hearing from anyone else in the next few hours.

It’s about land. The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza and now the Palestinians are getting their comeuppance. Sure. But wait, how come all those Palestinians – all 1.5 million – are crammed into Gaza in the first place? Well, their families once lived, didn’t they, in what is now called Israel? And got chucked out – or fled for their lives – when the Israeli state was created.

And – a drawing in of breath is now perhaps required – the people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army. But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers – to the Gaza Strip! Refugees, they became. David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an “unjust and unjustified action”. Too bad. The  Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back.

And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza, among the “terrorists” Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj. Interesting story.

And same again for Israel’s right to self-defence. We heard it again today. What if the people of London were being rocketed like the people of Israel? Wouldn’t they strike back? Well yes, but we Brits don’t have more than a million former inhabitants of the UK cooped up in refugee camps over a few square miles around Hastings.

The last time this specious argument was used was in 2008, when Israel invaded Gaza and killed at least 1,100 Palestinians (exchange rate: 1,100 to 13). What if Dublin was under rocket attack, the Israeli ambassador asked then? But the UK town of Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland was under rocket attack from the Irish Republic in the 1970s – yet the RAF didn’t bomb Dublin in retaliation, killing Irish women and children. In Canada in 2008, Israel’s supporters were making the same fraudulent point. What if the people of Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal were being rocket-attacked from the suburbs of their own cities? How would they feel? But the Canadians haven’t pushed the original inhabitants of Canadian territory into refugee camps.

 

And now let’s cross to the West Bank. First of all, Benjamin Netanyahu said he couldn’t talk to Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas because he didn’t also represent Hamas. Then when Abbas formed a unity government, Netanyahu said he couldn’t talk to Abbas because he had unified himself with the “terrorist” Hamas. Now he says he can only talk to him if he breaks with Hamas – even though he won’t then represent Hamas.

Meanwhile, that great leftist Israeli philosopher Uri Avnery – 90 years old and still, thankfully, going strong – has picked up on his country’s latest obsession: the danger that Isis will storm west from its Iraqi/Syrian “caliphate” and arrive on the east bank of the Jordan river.

“And Netanyahu said,” according to Avnery, “if they are not stopped by the permanent Israeli garrison there (on the Jordan river), they will appear at the gates of Tel Aviv.” The truth, of course, is that the Israeli air force would have crushed Isis the moment it dared to cross the Jordanian border from Iraq or Syria.

The importance of this, however, is that if Israel keeps its army on the Jordan (to protect Israel from Isis), a future “Palestine” state will have no borders and will be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory.

“Much like the South African Bantustans,” says Avnery. In other words, no “viable” state of Palestine will ever exist. After all, aren’t Isis just the same as Hamas? Of course not.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images)

But that’s not what we heard from Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman. No, what he told Al Jazeera was that Hamas was “an extremist terrorist organisation not very different from Isis in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Boko Haram…” Tosh. Hezbollah is a Shia militia now fighting to the death inside Syria against the Sunni Muslims of Isis. And Boko Haram – thousands of kilometres from Israel – is not a threat to Tel Aviv.

But you get the point. The Palestinians of Gaza – and please forget, forever, the 6,000 Palestinians whose families come from the land of Sederot – are allied to the tens of thousands of Islamists threatening Maliki of Baghdad, Assad of Damascus or President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja. Even more to the point, if Isis is heading towards the edge of the West Bank, why is the Israeli government still building colonies there – illegally, and on Arab land – for Israeli civilians?

This is not just about the foul murder of three Israelis in the occupied West Bank or the foul murder of a Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem. Nor about the arrest of many Hamas militants and politicians in the West Bank.  Nor about rockets. As usual, it’s about land.

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Inside the genocidal mind of Mark Regev!

Mark Regev loses his cool in classic 2008 interview with Jon Snow,‪#‎Ch4News‬. New mind-reading technology lets us see what he’s thinking.