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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: AP) 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was in the United Kingdom.

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

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

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

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

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

Tony and Cherie Blair partying

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

Stop Arming Israel ~ BDS Movement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOWNLOADS, FACT SHEETS, NEWS

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

stop-arming-israel-2

Fact sheet: The case for a military embargo on Israel

Israel’s illegal use of military violenc

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

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

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

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

Military aid and exports to Israel

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

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

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

Exporting ‘field tested technology’ 

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s deadly drones

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

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

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

Joint Military Research: Direct complicity in Israel’s crimes

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

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

The Palestinian call for a military embargo

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

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

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

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

Taking effective action to #StopArmingIsrael 

Take action now to help Stop Arming Israel:

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

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

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

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

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

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Noose tight BDS

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

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

 

BDS ZIO FLAG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you don’t like the evidence – ignore it

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

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

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

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

US-based Noble’s Gaza gas grab

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

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

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

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

Israel’s secret gas talks

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

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

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

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

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

The Palestinians – who own the gas – were excluded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quashing the gas deal

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

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

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

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

Israel’s gas reserves inflated, consumption understated

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s looming gas crunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Gas and Israel collude to exclude Hamas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamas must be uprooted from Gaza

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

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

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

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

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

Extending Israeli sovereignty over Gaza

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

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

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

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

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

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

Removing the obstacles – Hamas and the PA

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As reported by Buzzfeed reporter Sheera Frenkel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as Jewish News Service says HERE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Image courtesy of Mohammed Saber/EPA]

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| #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.

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

 

 

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

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

FAQ:

Q – What caused this latest outburst of violence?

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

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

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

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

 

Q – Is Israel acting in self-defense?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Q – Is Israel attacking “Hamas targets”?

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

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

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

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

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

Q – Why has Hamas declined to accept a ceasefire?

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

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

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

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

 

Q – Does Hamas use Palestinians as human shields?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experts:

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

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

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| 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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