Category Archives: Truth

ElBaradei: Ignoring Israel undermines NPT

Mon, 16 Feb 2009 19:11:59 GMT

The UN nuclear chief says a double-standard approach to Israel’s nukes has undermined the non-proliferation regime.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Monday that Arab nations believe that Israel has undermined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and this is a major obstacle to nuclear disarmament.

“What compounds the problem is that the nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel, the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons,” he wrote in The Herald Tribune.

Israel is largely believed to posses the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East and has refused to sign the NPT or put its nuclear facilities under the UN supervision.

Former US president Jimmy Carter confirmed in May 2008 that Israel has 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

ElBaradei’s remarks come amid speculations that the new administration of Barack Obama intends to engage Iran in direct negotiations over the country’s nuclear program.

The UN nuclear watchdog has been investigating the Iranian program but its findings are often ignored by the international community.

“The UN and related agencies must be given adequate authority and funding and put in the hands of leaders who have vision, courage and credibility,” the UN official added.

ElBaradei also blamed the US and Israel’s unilateral policies for encouraging other nations to develop nuclear arms.

“Above all, we need to halt the glaring breach of core principles of international law such as limitations on the unilateral use of force, proportionality in self-defense and the protection of civilians during hostilities in order to avoid a repeat of the civilian carnage in Iraq and, most recently, in Gaza.”

Source

Hamas maintained cease-fire June – November 2008

Former Israel foreign minister gets his facts wrong about Hamas rocket attacks and is stopped by the news presenter Emily Reuben with a “fact sheet” given by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and created by the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center, (IICC), which is routinely cited on the Israeli government websites.

Philip Slater: A Message to Israel: Time to Stop Playing the Victim Role

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-slater/a-message-to-israel- time_b_155978.html

I can understand that after centuries of persecution it’s satisfying for a Jewish state to be the aggressor for a change, but there’s a codicil that goes with that role. You don’t get to act like a victim any more. “Poor little Israel” just sounds silly when you’re the dominant power in the Middle East. When you’ve invaded several of your neighbors, bombed and defeated them in combat, occupied their land, and taken their homes away from them, it’s time to stop acting oppressed. Yes, Arab states deny your right to exist, threaten to drive you into the sea, and all the rest of their futile, helpless rhetoric. The fact is, you have the upper hand and they don’t. You have sophisticated arms and they don’t. You have nuclear weapons and they don’t. So stop pretending to be pathetic. It doesn’t play well in Peoria.

(Yes, I know, we Americans should talk–always trembling in our boots about terrorists and ‘rogue states’ and ‘evil empires’ when we have enough nukes to blow up entire continents, and spend more on arms in an hour than most of the world’s nations spend in a year. But just because we’re hypocrites and Nervous Nellies doesn’t mean you have to be).

Calling Hamas the ‘aggressor’ is undignified. The Gaza strip is little more than a large Israeli concentration camp, in which Palestinians are attacked at will, starved of food, fuel, energy–even deprived of hospital supplies. They cannot come and go freely, and have to build tunnels to smuggle in the necessities of life. It would be difficult to have any respect for them if they didn’t fire a few rockets back.

The Israel lobby has a hissy fit when anyone points out that Israel has been borrowing liberally from the Nazi playbook, but to punish a whole nation for the attacks of a few–which Israel has been doing consistently in Gaza–is a violation of international law–a law enacted in response to the Nazi practice. And please, spare us the hypocrisy–borrowed, I’m ashamed to admit, from my own government–of saying ‘every effort is made to avoid civilian casualties’. When you drop bombs on a crowded city you’re bombing civilians. Bombs don’t ask for ID cards. Bombs are civilian killers. That’s what they do. They’re designed to break the spirit of a nation by slaughtering families. They were used all through World War II by all sides for that very purpose. And that’s what they’re intended for in Gaza.

And please, Israel, try to restrain yourself from using that ridiculous argument, borrowed again from Bush (how low can you get?), that Hamas leaders “hide among civilians”, by living in their own homes. Apparently, in the thinking of Israelis, they should all run out into an uninhabited area somewhere (try to find one in Gaza), surround themselves with flares and write in the sand with a stick, “Here I am!”

Yesterday you shelled three UN-run schools, killing several dozen children and adults, despite the fact that the UN had given you the precise coordinates of all its schools in Gaza. So much for ‘taking every care to avoid civilian casualties’. You seem to feel you can kill whomever you like, whenever you like, and wherever you like, just because you have a blank check from the United States. Every day this assault goes on you’re demonstrating contempt for the UN, the international community, and human life. Talk about a rogue state.

You might also pay attention to the fact that your outdated policy of macho bullying–the policy you’ve been following for decades–isn’t working! The Palestinians are human. They’re not dogs you can beat into submission. The worse you treat them, the more they’ll fight back. That’s what it means to be human. The more you oppress people, the more people resist. We dropped more bombs on Viet Nam than all the bombs dropped by all nations in World War II. Not to mention napalm, herbicides and all kinds of sophisticated land mines. But did they bow down and kiss the feet of their conquerors? They did not.

You’ll have to kill them all. And when you do, you may finally lose the support even of the United States.

Remember that American support is based entirely on the notion that no politician can win without the Jewish vote. But not all American Jews think Israel is on a divine mission from God. A great many American Jews believe in international law and justice.

I can understand how Israel could resent this lecture coming from an American. After all, isn’t this what we Americans did? Came into someone else’s country, slaughtered 95% of its inhabitants and took over? And didn’t we go all Nervous Nellie whenever they fought back, accusing them of aggression to justify even more genocidal slaughter? And didn’t we get away with it?

Yes, but I’m sorry to tell you, Israel, you came on the scene too late. Genocide just doesn’t fly any more. I know it isn’t fair, you have every right to feel aggrieved about this, but the world’s smaller, cowboys are passé, and bullies aren’t heroes any more.

Rebuilding the Islamic University of Gaza

Akram Habeeb and Marcy Newman, The Electronic Intifada, 16 February 2009
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10308.shtml

Since Israel’s bombing of the buildings housing scientific laboratories at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) on 28 December, the rubble that remains debunks Israeli claims that those labs were used to manufacture weapons. Of course such allegations are preposterous; indeed it would be quite foolish for IUG to even entertain the notion of producing weapons given the way in which Palestinian universities have been under constant Israeli attack since the founding of Birzeit University in the West Bank in 1975.

Rather, it is Israeli universities that contain the laboratories where the weaponry used to destroy Palestinian lives in Gaza and elsewhere is developed. In the 14 June 2007 issue of The Nation, US journalist Naomi Klein makes it clear that the relationship between the State of Israel, its academic institutions and its military are intertwined:

“Thirty homeland security companies were launched in Israel in the past six months alone, thanks in large part to lavish government subsidies that have transformed the Israeli army and the country’s universities into incubators for security and weapons start-ups (something to keep in mind in the debates about the academic boycott).”

The way that Israel binds together its universities (all of which are state-run and funded) and its military can be gleaned from any number of Israeli universities and their laboratories, which serve as incubators of destruction while the Palestinian people inevitably become its guinea pigs. In a recent article in the Tel Aviv University Review (Winter 2008-2009) entitled “Lifting the Veil of Secrecy,” Gil Zohar lays out the collaboration between Israeli universities and Israel’s colonial military project quite clearly:

“… Tel Aviv University [TAU] is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge. While much of that research remains classified, several facts illuminate the role of the university. MAFAT, a Hebrew acronym meaning the [Research and Development] Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, is currently funding 55 projects at TAU. Nine projects are being funded by DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense.”

What is significant is that the US government and its military are complicit in the research leading to the destruction and devastation of Palestinian lives through their funding of these research projects, projects that inevitably lead to acts of aggression such as the bombing of IUG.

IUG is an institution of higher education open not only to its 20,000 students, but also to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza who visit its libraries and attend its lectures. USAID, the US government’s foreign aid agency, claims that it funded more than $900,000 of projects, which went into building IUG’s campus (see “Audit finds US funded university linked to terrorism,” The Chicago Tribune, 12 December 2007). In March 2007 The Washington Times published a propagandistic article, “School Linked to Hamas Gets US Cash,” charging that USAID did not follow US federal laws when financially assisting IUG, as well as Al-Quds University (famous for its normalizing relations with Israeli academia, although it recently promised to cease such joint projects). USAID conducted an audit in response to The Washington Times article that questioned $140,000 of USAID money awarded to the university and to 49 students who received scholarships. The article and the audit argued that funding a so-called “Hamas-controlled” university violates US federal law. As a result of this audit faculty and students at IUG have been prohibited from receiving US State Department funds — whether USAID-related funds for building, scholarships or the Palestinian Faculty Development Program. This is yet another method of destroying educational opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza over the course of the past few years.

It is difficult to assess at present how much of the damage sustained by IUG was built with USAID funds. Likewise, it is difficult to ascertain a direct link between military research projects at Tel Aviv University funded by Israel and the US and the destruction of IUG. But what is clear is that past educational opportunities, for individual faculty members and students as well as for expanding scientific studies in the form of building laboratories, coming from the US are no longer available to Palestinians affiliated with IUG. Moreover, the primary “living” testimony which verily refutes Israeli claims about IUG as a place for hiding or manufacturing weapons can be found in the rubble of its destroyed buildings, which were decimated with knowledge produced by American research projects at Israeli universities. The mountains of rubble call out to any investigation team to come, to dig, to excavate in order to prove that Israeli allegations are merely a pretext employed to destroy a prestigious academic institution in Palestine. The debris of the science lab buildings shows that beneath it were 74 laboratories serving the science and engineering students at IUG. These labs were places for diligent research and scientific experiments. They were a fountain of hope for impoverished students, many of whom were about to graduate.

The science and engineering lab buildings were not the only premises that were pounded by the Israelis with their American-made weapons. Many other university buildings housing sophisticated computer labs, classrooms, workshops and seminar rooms were also bombed. In spite of the tremendous damage inflicted on IUG, it will be rebuilt with the spirit of resiliency that we see in the young minds of our students. This role however cannot be sustained without the help of our colleagues from around the world. That academics have taken the decision to boycott Israel and support Palestinians given Israeli academia’s role in its continuous military aggression, offers a glimmer of hope for IUG.

IUG needs financial support to help it rebuild and re-equip its labs. But it does not just need charity. IUG faculty and students also require solidarity from their academic colleagues at institutions around the world to start partnerships in order to rehabilitate the rest of its premises. Projects such as collaborative video-conference courses, faculty and student exchange programs and scholarships for faculty and students are all important ways of lending solidarity to IUG. Equally important for our American colleagues is to remove the false label that IUG is a “Hamas-controlled” institution. Just as Palestinians in Gaza belong to a variety of political parties, IUG’s students, board, faculty and staff represent that reality. IUG is a university like any other in Palestine that reflects the diversity of its population. As with Israel’s propagandistic claims that it engaged in a “war with Hamas,” when they besiege all Palestinians living in Gaza, this classification of IUG hurts all Palestinians pursuing higher education. We call on our colleagues to work to rebuild IUG through their solidarity through which it can remain an edifice of light, love and learning.

Akram Habeeb, teaches literature at the Islamic University of Gaza and Marcy Newman teaches literature at An Najah National University. For more information about IUG reconstruction please visit http://www.iugaza.edu.ps/iugrec/en/. For more information about how you can help please email Marcy at marcynewman at riseup dot net or Akram at akramhabeeb at yahoo dot com.

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10308.shtml

Chronic shortages in Gaza fuels black market

While the gates remain closed, much needed aid is piling up on the Israeli side of the border. Inside the Strip, one million Gazans rely on food hand-outs to survive. But they’re also desperate f…
While the gates remain closed, much needed aid is piling up on the Israeli side of the border.

Inside the Strip, one million Gazans rely on food hand-outs to survive.

But they’re also desperate for other every day items – and it’s leading to a thriving black market.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Kirsch reports from Gaza city.

The untold story of the Anti-Semitism

How old is the state of Israel? How old is Zionism? How old is Judaism? How old are Semites? And who are Semites?

For thousands years there have been historical and scientific facts that were established and agreed upon by all human beings. These facts are now distorted and turned upside-down to serve a losing forged case called Zionism.

Since Zionism was founded it tries to cloud the obvious and forge facts:

1- Since when a religion is mixed with ethnicity along with nationality? Religion is connected to spirituality that has nothing to do with colour or race and it is as old as the human belief in God, ethnicity is connected to race and it is as old as Noah, nationality is related to the notion of state, this notion is a relatively modern, it has nothing to do either with religion or with ethnicity, it is a political entity. The Zionist state is the only state on earth that mixes the three of them in a really confusing mixture.
2- Semitic race is scientifically defined as the groups of people who dwelled the middle east for thousands years: Akkadian, Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Ge’ez, Hebrew, Maltese, Phoenician, Tigre and Tigrinya among others, these are called members of the Semitic family. Since when Semites were restricted in Hebrews only?
3- Since when Hebrews were restricted in Jews only? Even Jesus Christ and his disciples were Hebrews, many Hebrews embraced Christianity and Islam. It is an ethnicity not a religion.
4- Since when Jews were restricted in Zionism? Judaism is more than 25 centuries old and Zionism is only one century old. Judaism is a religion connected to spirituality and constant belief, Zionism is a political movement and politics are always disputable.
5- Since when there were clear cut lines separating Arabs from Aramaeans from Assyrians from Babylonians from Chaldeans from Sabaeans from Hebrews? If even Yitzhak’s and Jacob’s children and descendents got married to people from all these branches of the Semitic family? The process of mingling between the Semitic branches took place, constantly, for five thousands years.
6- Since when cousins became enemies? Name one battle between Arabs and Hebrews before the foundation of the state of Israel. They were in good terms, very close to each other even before Islam. After Islam, and because of the many resemblances between Judaism and Islam in theology, law, traditions and even food they became the two closest people (Muslims and Jews) and shared mutual friendly cooperative history for ten centuries to the extent that they both have been slaughtered and expelled together by the Catholic church in Spain, and when Muslims left Spain, Jews left with them, that is why a great population of Jews are located in Morocco.
7- Since when Jews became warriors? They are known throughout history of hating war, it is even mentioned in the bible that they have been ordered by God to wage a war and they refused because they hate war. Jews throughout history worked as merchants and scholars, and within scholarship they mainly worked in philosophy and as much as they led philosophical disputes as much as they avoided political and military conflicts, since when they turned from philosophers to warriors? Only when Zionism was founded and formed the Zionist terrorist groups which attacked hotels, cinemas and restaurants. (Mahachem Begin, Rabin, Peres, Shamir, Sharon and most of the Israeli leaders were wanted terrorists in Britain and several western states, they had their pictures hanged on walls with the label: wanted.)
Furthermore, who are those “blond” Jews? Yasser Arafat looks more Jewish than them! From where did they come? Are they Semites?
Semites are not blond :).
Are they non-Semite Jews? They have to enjoy citizenship in their own countries. Judaism is not a nationality. No religion on earth have been either a nationality nor an ethnicity.
I recommend a DNA test proceeded by a neutral, honest lab that does not accept bribes. Arabs had their DNA tests and it proved that it is the same DNA of their ancestors who existed in the region thousands years ago, and we are ready to be submitted to another test. What about the nice blond Tzipi Livni?
PS: Hitler is not hidden in the Middle East region, Arabs have nothing to do with Hitler, and if he hated Jews it is essential that he hated Arab Muslims and Arab Christians too, but his short life time did not give him the chance to express his feelings toward them, yet the Zionist entity is doing the job for him. There is no Hitlarization here, Arabs are not Hitlarized, scientists can develop a way to resurrect Hitler and give him to the European Jews to torture him as much as they can till he dies and resurrect him again and again a million times until their fiery desire of retaliation is fully satisfied instead of forcing innocents to pay bills for things they didn’t even buy.

Note:
My American friend told me that the word Zionism is resented by Americans. In the Arab world we don’t use the word Israel for several reasons among them is that Israel is the name of a respectable prophet whome we believe in and we don’t like to use his name in a negative context, we don’t use the word Zionism in reference with the “Jewish conispiracy to rule the world” we use it to defrenciate between the political movement and the Jewish religion.

Report from Gaza by US National Lawyers Guild Delegation

Report from Gaza by US National Lawyers Guild Delegation

February 9, 2009
http://www.counterpunch.org/nlg02092009.html

A Report from Gaza
Strong Indications of Israeli War Crimes By NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD

Gaza City.
We are a delegation of 8 American lawyers, members of the National Lawyers Guild in the United States, who have come here to the Gaza Strip to assess the effects of the recent attacks on the people, and to determine what, if any, violations of international law occurred and whether U.S. domestic law has been violated as a consequence. We have spent the last five days interviewing communities particularly impacted by the recent Israeli offensive, including medical personnel, humanitarian aid workers and United Nations representatives. In particular, the delegation examined three issues: 1) targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure; 2) illegal use of weapons and 3) blocking of medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians.
Targeting of Civilians and Civilian Infrastructure
Much of the debate surrounding Israel’s aerial and ground offensive against Gaza has centered on whether or not Israel observed principles of proportionality and distinction. The debate suggests that Israel targeted Hamas i.e., its military installations, its leaders, and its militants, and in the process of its discrete military exercise it inadvertently killed Palestinian civilians. While we have found evidence that Palestinian civilians were victims of excessive force and collateral damage, we have also found troubling instances of Palestinian civilians being targets themselves.

The delegation recorded numerous accounts of Israeli soldiers shooting civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, in the head, chest, and stomach. Another common narrative described Israeli forces rounding civilians into a single location i.e., homes, schools which Israeli tanks or warplanes then shelled. Israeli forces continued to shoot at civilians fleeing the targeted structures.
We spoke to Khaled Abed Rabbo, who witnessed an Israeli soldier execute his 2-year-old and 7-year-old daughters, and critically injure a third daughter, Samar, 4-years old, on a sunny afternoon outside his home. Two other Israeli soldiers were standing nearby eating chips and chocolates at the time on January 7, 2009. Abed Rabbo recounts standing in front of the Israeli soldiers with his mother, wife and daughters for 5 – 7 minutes before one of the soldiers opened fire on his family.
We spoke to Ibtisam al-Sammouni, 31, and a resident of Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City. On January 4th, the Israeli army forced approximately 110 of Zaytoun’s residents into Ibtisam’s home. At approximately 7 am on January 5th, the Israeli military launched two tank shells at the house without warning killing two of Ibtisam’s children: Rizka, 14 and Faris, 12. When the survivors attempted to flee Israeli forces shot at them. Her son Abdullah, 7, was injured in the shelling and remained in the home among his deceased siblings for four days before Israeli forces permitted medical personnel into Zaytoun to rescue them. After medical personnel removed the injured persons, an Israeli war plane destroyed the house and it crumbled over the lifeless bodies. The dead remained beneath the rubble for 17 days before the Israeli Army permitted medical personnel to remove their bodies for burial.
We spoke to the family of Rouhiya al-Najjar, 47, who lived in Khoza’a, Khan Younis. Israeli forces ordered her neighborhoods residents to march to the city center. Rouhiya led 20 women out of her home and into the alley. They all carried white scarves. Upon entering the alley, an Israeli sniper shot Rouhiya in her left temple killing her instantly. Israeli forces prevented medical personnel from reaching her body for twelve hours. These are only some of the accounts that we’ve collected.
Israeli forces also destroyed numerous buildings throughout the Gaza Strip during the recent incursion. Guild delegates viewed the remains of hundreds of demolished homes and businesses – in addition to the remains of the American School in Gaza, damaged medical centers, and the charred innards of UNRWA warehouses. While in situations of armed conflict, collateral damage and mistakes can occur, the circumstances surrounding the cases that the delegation investigated indicate deliberate targeting rather than collateral damage or mistake. Specifically:
The American School at Gaza, which was hit with two F-16 missiles on January 3, 2009, killing the watch guard on duty. According to Ribhi Salem, the school’s director, the Israelis gave no warnings. Mr. Salem stated that the school had come to an agreement with resistance groups not to use school grounds and there had never been resistance activity on the property.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
John Ging, the Director of Gaza Operations for UNRWA reported that Israeli forces fired missiles at UNRWA schools in Gaza City, Jabalyia and Bet Lahiya. The United Nation compound in Gaza city was also hit with white phosphorous shells and missiles. Ging noted that al United Nations buildings and vehicles all fly UN flags, are marked in blue paint from the top, and that during hostilities the UN personnel remained in constant contact with Israeli authorities.
Misuse of Weapons
Our delegation has heard allegations of the use of DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) weaponry, white phosphorus and other possible weapons whose use in civilian areas is prohibited. We have also heard of the use of prohibited weapons, such as fleshettes. We have found our own evidence of the use of fleschette shells, which we will combine with evidence collected by Amnesty International to push for further investigation. We have not found any conclusive evidence of the use of DIME, though we believe that this warrants further investigation and disclosure by the Israeli military.
Our findings overwhelmingly point to the use of conventional weapons in a prohibited manner, specifically, the use of battlefield weaponry in densely populated civilian areas. Customary international law forbids the use of weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. We found evidence that Israel used white phosphorus in extensively throughout its three-week offensive in a manner that led to numerous deaths and injuries. For example, Sabah Abu Halima, 45, lived in Beit Lahiya with her husband, seven boys, and one girl. It was midday and she and her entire family was home. Within minutes she felt her home shaking and missiles fell through the rooftop. She fell to the ground upon impact. When she looked up she saw her children burning.
Preventing Access to Medical and Humanitarian Aid
Under customary international humanitarian law, the wounded are protected persons and must receive the medical care and attention required by their conditions, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay. Parties to a conflict are required to ensure the unhindered movement of medical personnel and ambulances to carry out their duties and of wounded persons to access medical care. Speaking to medical workers and the family of victims, NLG delegates documented serious violations of this provision. Among the stories documented include:
Zaytoun neighborhood, which came under attack and invasion by ground foces on January 3, 2009. The Palestinian Red Crescent received 145 calls from Zaytoun for help, but were denied entry by Israel. Bashar Ahmed Murad, Director of Emergency Medical Services for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society told us that “a lot of people could have been saved, but hey weren’t given medical care by the Israelis, nor did the Israeli army allow Palestinian medical services in.” When paramedics were finally allowed to enter on January 7, Israeli forces only gave them a 3-hour “lull” to work and prohibited ambulances into the area. Instead they forced paramedics park the ambulances 2 kilometers away and enter the area on foot. Murad told delegation members how they had to pile the wounded on donkey carts and have the medical workers pull the carts in order to help the most people possible in the short time they were given. After the 3 hours were over, the Israeli army started shooting toward the ambulances. The Red Crescent was not able to reach that area again to evacuate the dead until January 17, 2009 when the Israeli army pulled out.
Al-Shurrab Family
On January 16th, Israeli forces shot at the jeep of Mohammed Shurrab, 64 years of age, and two of his sons, Kassab and Ibrahim, aged 28 and 18 as they were returning from their fields. Mohammad was shot in the left arm and Ibrahim was shot in the leg. The elder son, Kassab, sustained a fatal bullet wound to the chest, being shot multiple times after being ordered out of the car. Mohammad, bleeding from his wound, contacted the media, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and a number of NGOs via mobile phone in order to acquire medical assistance. Israeli forces denied medical relief agencies clearance to reach them until almost 24 hours after Mohammad, Ibrahim and Kassab had been shot. Earlier that morning, Ibrahim had succumbed to his wound and died. Mohammad Shurrab and his sons were shot during a so-called “lull” in Israeli ground operations, which Israeli forces had agreed to in order to allow humanitarian relief to enter and be distributed in the Gaza Strip. As such NLG delegates fail to see how this denial of medical access to the wounded Shurrab family could have been absolutely necessary and not simply arbitrary.
International humanitarian law also prohibits attacks on medical personnel, medical units and medical transports exclusively assigned to carry out medical functions. Delegate members saw ambulances seriously damaged and destroyed, some apparently deliberately crushed by Israeli tanks. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the Palestinian Ministry of Health informed delegates that 15 Palestinian medics were killed and 21 injured in the course of Israel’s assault.
Conclusions
This delegation is seriously concerned by our initial findings. We have found strong indications of violations of the laws of war and possible war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip. We are particularly concerned that most of the weapons that were found used in the December 27 assault on Gaza are US-made and supplied. We believe that Israel’s use of these weapons may constitute a violation of US law, and particularly the Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act.
A report of our initial findings will be compiled and submitted to, among others, members of the United States Congress. We intend to push for an investigation by the United States government into possible violations by Israel of US law. We also hope to contribute our finding and efforts to other efforts by local and international lawyers to push for accountability against those found responsible for the egregious crimes that we have documented.
MEMBERS OF THE LEGAL DELEGATION
Huwaida Arraf (New York, Washington DC)
huwaida.arraf@gmail.com
Palestine: 0599-130-426
USA: 1-202-294-8813

Noura Erekat (Washington DC)
noo194@yahoo.com
Palestine:
USA: 1-510-847-4239

James Marc Leas (Vermont)
jolly39@gmail.com
Palestine:
USA: 1-802 864-1575 and 1-802 734-8811(cell)

Linda Mansour (Ohio)
Lindamansour@aol.com
Palestine:
USA: 1-419-535-7100 and 1-419-283-8281 (cell)

Rose Mishaan (California)
roseindigo7@gmail.com
Palestine:
USA: 1-917-803-2201

Thomas Nelson (Oregon)
nelson@thnelson.com
Palestine:
USA: 1-503-709-6397

Radhika Sainath (California)
radhika.sainath@gmail.com
Palestine:
USA: 1-917-669-6903

Reem Salahi (California)
reemos@gmail.com
Palestine:
USA: 1-510-225-8880

Slave Labor – Israel’s Construction Industry

Israel is a Western-style democracy in which the rights of all individuals are protected by law. If you believe that, guess again! Like many other Western democracies, Israel has relied on a slave class to do the hard labor to create a society in which the “decent people” can enjoy a comfortable standard of living.

It wouldn’t be fair to single Israel out for its shortcomings; even the United States turned a blind eye and allowed slavery from the time of its founding and denied a sizeable segment of the population rights under the Constitution that was designed to ensure those rights to all persons living within the borders of the country. However, it is also far from praiseworthy for a society to assume a facade of being a democracy when it continues to build its economy on the backs of men — and only men — who provide slave labor to build the country while the “good Israelis” regard the tasks that these men perform as beneath their dignity.

Nowhere is slave labor more obvious than in the construction industry. This problem was not born when the young state was created, as comedian Dudu Topaz pointed out in his Slip of the Tongue routine in the 1980’s; one of his jokes included a man telling his grandson about how he helped build so many buildings in Tel-Aviv, which prompted his grandson’s question: “Grandpa, were you an Arab?” In truth, one of the legacies of the 1967 Six Day War was a large Arab population living under Israeli military rule in the occupied territories; the male residents of these territories, anxious to profit from the new political realities, were only too willing to enter Israel to seek work, and Israeli employers, who knew that the spending power in the territories would enable Arab laborers to work for competitively low wages, were prepared to take the risk of hiring workers whose political sentiments might be hostile in order to build up their empires within Israel.

For close to two decades, this arrangement worked for the most part; all over the country, areas that became known as the “slave markets” sprang up, where Arabs from the territories stood and waited for Israeli entrepreneurs in need of laborers to come by to offer them work, whether on a daily or weekly basis. Technically, every Arab laborer was supposed to be registered with the Israeli government to be allowed to work within Israel; in practice, not always did the employers go through the trouble to register their fly-by-night hires. Because not all the Arab laborers regarded the Israeli-Arab dispute as something they wanted to forget, violent clashes often occurred; just as often, Israeli employers, fearful of such reprisals that could harm or incriminate them, saw fit to lock the Arab workers inside their temporary sleeping quarters. This latter practice could, and did, result in tragedy if a fire or other hazard broke out; the male slave laborers were helpless to flee the danger.

The intifada brought this arrangement to an end rapidly. Contractors, suddenly faced with a glaring lack of workers to complete their construction projects, made a desperate attempt to encourage young Israelis looking for career vocations to turn back to the construction industry in the hopes of solving both the problem of the labor shortage and the risk that employing residents of hostile areas had posed. This attempt, while well intended, did not gain sufficient popularity to return the construction industry to a “respectable” status in the eyes of Israelis; to them, construction was still too lowly for them to allow their children to do.

Faced with no alternatives locally, building contractors turned abroad to look for men desperate to feed their families to offer them contracts for work in Israel. In Romania, Israeli contractors found a sizeable audience of men who could not make a living in their own country. The contractors made arrangements to pay for their passage to Israel, to pay their wages, to provide them with living quarters, and to pay for their return passage at the completion of the work. All the laborers worked according to a contract properly drawn up, so the arrangements looked acceptable.

Unfortunately for the men who came to work in Israel, soon they were to learn the meaning of what Israelis call “Israbluff”. Soon, they learned that the employers would confiscate their passports to prevent them from abandoning the project once they discovered that they would be living in conditions unfit for human habitation, that they would have meager quantities of food shoved into their quarters under doors or through bars, as if they were in a cage in a zoo, and that they would receive what was written in their contracts minus several onerous deductions about which the employers had not mentioned a word at the time the contracts were signed. Worse yet, they would soon learn that while the Israeli media would put them on display as subjects for stories, nobody would come to their assistance; either they were “those foreigners” or they were “stealing jobs from Israelis.” Either way, nobody cared enough to fight for the rights of these men.

It must be noted that only men fall into this category; women are noticeably absent. Part of the reason for the indifference of the Israeli public towards the plight of these men is because they are men and not women; these men are expected to accept slave labor conditions graciously because otherwise they would not be able to support their families and, consequently, would fail as men. Of the few Israeli politicians who have shown empathy with the plight of these slave laborers, the absence of female politicians is even more conspicuously absent. The message is clear: men are beasts of burden to Israelis, creatures who are on the earth just to spawn children, work until exhausted to provide for others, be locked away like animals at any time someone sees fit to do so to them, and to jump on live grenades to prove that they are “heroes.” Any man who deviates from this stereotype is not worthy of being called a man — which may explain why women do not try to compete!

The slave labor trade in Israel will continue to exploit men unless men speak up to stop the slavery. Before they do that, they have to redefine manhood and to seek their own liberation from the slavery that every man faces in a world that seeks to “put men in their place.” It is easy to say, “It’s not my problem,” just because a man isn’t a Romanian locked in some hovel while he works to support a family in Timisoara; the truth is that it is every man’s problem, because the original problem would never have occurred if men were freed of their role as slaves to their families who can desert them the moment that they are no longer able to produce any more.

All the ills that affect men living in Israel can be seen in the case of these foreign laborers: exploitation, denial of human rights and dignity, denial of the right to travel freely, and the worst nemesis of them all: public apathy towards the plight of men in general. How about it, men? Who’ll pick up the glove?

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Ralph Nader’s article about the sixty-year invasion of Israel to Palestine

In the Public Interestby Ralph NaderJanuary 16, 2009In the long sixty-year tortured history of the Palestinian expulsion from their lands, Congress has maintained that it is always the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, and now Hamas who are to blame for all hostilities and their consequences with the Israeli government. The latest illustration of this Washington puppet show, backed by the most modern weapons and billions of taxpayer dollars annually sent to Israel, was the grotesquely one-sided Resolutions whisked through the Senate and the House of Representatives.While a massive bombing and invasion of Gaza was underway, the resolution blaming Hamas for all the civilian casualties and devastation—99% of it inflicted on Palestinians—zoomed through the Senate by voice vote and through the House by a vote of 390 to 5 with 22 legislators voting present.There is more dissent against this destruction of Gaza among the Israeli people, the Knesset, the Israeli media, and Jewish-Americans than among the dittoheads on Capitol Hill.The reasons for such near-unanimous support for Israeli actions—no matter how often they are condemned by peace advocates such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, United Nations resolutions, the World Court and leading human rights groups inside and outside of Israel, are numerous. The pro-Israeli government lobby, and the right-wing Christian evangelicals, lubricated by campaign money of many Political Action Committees (PACs) certainly are key. There is also more than a little bigotry in Congress against Arabs and Muslims, reinforced by the mass media yahoos who set new records for biased reporting each time this conflict erupts. The bias is clear. It is always the Palestinians’ fault. Right-wingers who would never view the U.S. government as perfect see the Israeli government as never doing anything wrong. Liberals who do not hesitate to criticize the U.S. military view all Israeli military attacks, invasions and civilian devastation as heroic manifestations of Israeli defense.The inversion of history and the scope of amnesia know no limits. What about the fact that the Israeli government drove Palestinians from their lands in 1947-48 with tens of thousands pushed into the Gaza strip. No problem to Congress. Then the fact that the Israeli government cruelly occupied, in violation of UN resolutions, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and only removed its soldiers and colonists from Gaza (1.5 million people in a tiny area twice the size of the District of Columbia) in 2005. To Congress, the Palestinians deserved it.Then when Hamas was freely elected to run Gaza, the Israeli authorities cut off the tax revenues on imports that belonged to the Gaza government. This threw the Gazans into a fiscal crisis—they were unable to pay their civil servants and police.In 2006, the Israelis added to their unrelieved control of air, water and land around the open-air prison by establishing a blockade. The natives became restless. Under international law, a blockade is an act of war. Primitive rockets, called by reporters “wildly inaccurate” were fired into Israel. During this same period, Israeli soldiers and artillery and missiles would go into Gaza at will and take far more lives and cause far more injuries than those incurred by those rockets. Civilians—especially children, the infirm and elderly—died or suffered week after week for lack of medicines, medical equipment, food, electricity, fuel and water which were embargoed by the Israelis. Then the Israeli bombing followed by the invasion during the past three weeks with what prominent Israeli writer Gideon Levy called “a brutal and violent operation…far beyond what was needed for protecting the people in its south.” Mr. Levy observed what the president of the United Nations General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann called a war against “a helpless and defenseless imprisoned population.”The horror of being trapped from fleeing the torrent of the most modern weapons of war from the land, air and seas is reflected in this passage from Amira Hass, writing in the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz:“The earth shaking under your feet, clouds of choking smoke, explosions like a fireworks display, bombs bursting into all-consuming flames that cannot be extinguished with water, mushroom clouds of pinkish-red smoke, suffocating gas, harsh burns on the skin, extraordinary maimed live and dead bodies.”Ms. Hass is pointing to the use of new anti-civilian weapons used on the Gazan people. So far there have been over 1100 fatalities, many thousands of injuries and the destruction of homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, pharmacies, granaries, farmer’s fields and many critical public facilities. The clearly marked UN headquarters and UN school were smashed, along with stored medicines and food supplies.Why? The Congressional response: “Hamas terrorists” everywhere. Sure, defending their Palestinian families is called terrorism. The truth is there is no Hamas army, airforce and navy up against the fourth most powerful military in the world. As one Israeli gunner on an armored personnel carrier frankly said to The New York Times: “They are villagers with guns. They don’t even aim when they shoot.”Injured Gazans are dying in damaged hospital corridors, bleeding to death because rescuers are not permitted to reach them or are endangered themselves. Thousands of units of blood donated by Jordanians are stopped by the Israeli blockade. Israel has kept the international press out of the Gazan killing fields. What is going on in Gaza is what Bill Moyers called it earlier this month – “state terrorism.” Already about 400 children are known to have died. More will be added who are under the rubble.Since 2002, more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations have had a standing offer, repeated often, that if Israel obeys several UN resolutions and withdraws to the 1967 borders leaving 22 percent of the original Palestine for an independent Palestinian state, they will open full diplomatic relations and there will be peace. Israel has declined to accept this offer.None of these and many other aspects of this conflict matter to the Congress. Its members do not want to hear even from the Israeli peace movement, composed of retired generals, security chiefs, mayors, former government ministers, and members of the Knesset. In 60 years these savvy peace advocates have not been able to give one hour of testimony before a Congressional Committee.Maybe members of Congress may wish to weigh the words of the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, years ago when he said:“There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis Hitler Auschwitz but was that their [the Palestinian’s] fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country.” Doesn’t that observation invite some compassion for the Palestinian people and their right to be free of Israeli occupation, land and water grabs and blockades in the 22 percent left of Palestine?
END.

BBC’s "impartiality" anything but

By: Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The Electronic Intifada, 4 February 2009

“The BBC cannot be neutral in the struggle between truth and untruth, justice and injustice, freedom and slavery, compassion and cruelty, tolerance and intolerance.” Thus read a 1972 internal document called Principles and Practice in News and Current Affairs laying out the guidelines for the BBC’s coverage of conflicts. It appears to affirm that in cases of oppression and injustice to be neutral is to be complicit, because neutrality reinforces the status quo. This partiality to truth, justice, freedom, compassion and tolerance it deems “within the consensus about basic moral values.” It is this consensus that the BBC spurned when it refused to broadcast the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC)’s video appeal to help the people of Gaza.

The presumption that underlies the decision is that the BBC has always been impartial when it comes to Israel-Palestine. An exhaustive 2004 study by the Glasgow University Media Group, Bad News from Israel, shows that the BBC’s coverage is systematically biased in favor of Israel. It excludes context and history to focus on day-to-day events; it invariably inverts reality to frame these as Palestinian “provocation” against Israeli “retaliation.” The context is always Israeli “security,” and in interviews the Israeli perspective predominates. There is also a marked difference in the language used to describe casualties on either side; and despite the far more numerous Palestinian victims, Israeli casualties receive more air time.

Many of these findings were subsequently confirmed in a 2006 independent review commissioned by the BBC’s board of governors which found its coverage of the conflict “incomplete” and “misleading.” The review highlighted in particular the BBC’s selective use of the word “terrorism” and its failure “to convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation.”
These biases were once more evident in the corporation’s coverage of the recent assault on Gaza. A false sense of balance was sustained by erasing from the narrative the root cause of the conflict: instead of occupier and occupied, we had a “war” or a “battle” — as if between equals. In most stories the word occupation was not mentioned once. On the other hand the false Israeli claim that the occupation of Gaza ended in 2005 was frequently repeated, even though access to the strip’s land, sea and airspace remain under Israeli control, and the United Nations still recognizes Israel as the occupying power. In accepting the spurious claims of one side over the judgment of the world’s pre-eminent multilateral institution, the BBC has already forfeited its impartiality.

The BBC presented the assault as an Israeli war of self-defense, a narrative that could only be sustained by effacing the 1,250 Palestinians (including 222 children) killed by the Israeli military between 2005 and 2008. It downplayed the siege which denies Palestinians in Gaza access to fuel, food, water and medicine. It presented Hamas’s ineffectual rockets as the cause of the conflict when it was Israel’s breech of the six-month truce on 4 November which triggered hostilities. It described the massacre of refugees in an UN relief agency compound in the context of Israel’s “objectives” and “security.” The security needs of the Palestinians received scant attention. Selective indices were used to create an illusion of balance: instead of comparing Palestinian casualties to those suffered by Israel (more than 1300 to 13) the BBC chose to match them with the number of rockets fired by Hamas. No similar figures were produced for the tonnage of ordnance dropped on the Palestinians.

A parade of Israeli officials — uniformed and otherwise — were always at hand to explain away Israeli war crimes. The only Palestinians quoted were from the Palestinian Authority, a faction even the BBC’s own Jeremy Paxman identified as collaborators, even though the assault was described invariably as an “Israel-Hamas” conflict, much as the 2006 Israeli invasion was framed as an “Israel-Hizballah” war. This despite the fact that Israel made no attempts to discriminate between the groups it was claiming to target and the wider population. As one Israeli military official bragged, Israel was “trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel.” Indeed, given the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths, it would have been far more accurate to describe the assaults as “Israeli army-Lebanon,” and “Israeli army-Palestine” conflicts.

You can read the complete article here.
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But this decision to refuse a charity appeal has consequences that go far beyond any of the BBC’s earlier failings: as the respected British MP Tony Benn put it, “people will die because of the BBC decision.” It is so blatantly unjust that the only question the BBC management might want to mull over is just how irreparable the damage from this controversy might be to its reputation. The organization that only days earlier was reporting with glee a letter by Chinese intellectuals boycotting their state media is today itself the subject of boycotts across Britain, not just by intellectuals, but by artists, scholars, citizens and even the International Atomic Energy Agency. Much like Pravda and Izvestia during the Cold War, today it is the BBC that has emerged as the most apposite metaphor for state propaganda.

You can read the complete article here.

The Calculus of Death – Israel and the Bomb

By JULES RABIN

Can Israel be trusted with the nuclear bombs it steadfastly refuses to admit owning?
On the evidence of events in Gaza, I think not. Here’s why.
In the last week of December, when Israel lost patience over a series of rocket attacks from Gaza that killed three Israelis in as many days, on top of 25 more who had been killed in the same manner in the eight years preceding, the Israeli armed forces retaliated with sustained and overwhelming attacks on the entirety of densely populated Gaza.
Under intense Israeli bombardment and tank fire, over 1,300 Gazans, a third of them children, were killed in the 21 days of the Israeli onslaught — a stunningly great number of them under circumstances that have opened Israel to charges of committing war crimes.
Mark the ratio: 1,300 Palestinian lives, fighters and civilians, taken in skewed payment for the original three Israelis, whose deaths were the proximate cause — call it the last straw after eight years of rocket attacks from Gaza — of the assault on Gaza.
And mark the overwhelming swiftness of the reaction. It took Israel a mere 22 days to present the people of Gaza with a definitive version of the type of blunt lesson that the Hamas government of Gaza had been trying for eight years of intermittent rocket attacks to teach Israel.

With those ratios in mind — the 1,300 Palestinian deaths achieved in 22 days and the 28 Israeli deaths inflicted in eight years — it’s fair to ask how might an Israel in possession of an arsenal of nuclear weapons react if instead of a ragtag force of guerillas like that of Hamas it were threatened by a modern army like its own, equipped with tanks and attack jets. If, say, as happened with Gaza, a major Israeli city were to undergo an assault of 22 days duration that turned a great part of it into rubble, and caused a thousand Israeli deaths.

On the showing of the overwhelming scale of its punitive assault on Gaza, could we expect Israel to show restraint — nuclear restraint — in the event of an assault by an armed force more nearly matching its own? When there is no other lesson on earth, militarily speaking, that can be taught as swiftly and conclusively as the one the nuclear bombteaches?

In the calculus of death, how many lives of the “other” will the taking of the life of a single Israeli, or three, or a thousand, be worth, finally, tomorrow and the next day and the last day of all?

Jules Rabin is a writer, political critic, and longtime resident of Marshfield, Vermont.
See also the YouTube video about Dimona, based on Mordechai Vanunu’s revelations, at

Gaza: The Case for Middle East Peace – World Economic Forum – Davos

Gaza: The Case for Middle East Peace
The uncertainty and complexity surrounding the crisis in Gaza have captured the attention of the world.

What needs to be done to prevent the Middle East peace process from slipping away yet again?

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, New York
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey
Amre Moussa, Secretary-General, League of Arab States, Cairo
Shimon Peres, President of Israel

Chaired by
David Ignatius, Associate Editor and Columnist, The Washington Post, USA

Noam Chomsky: Obama persists in restricting support to the defeated party

Obama on Israel-Palestine
Noam Chomsky
chomsky.info, January 24, 2009
Barack Obama is recognized to be a person of acute intelligence, a legal scholar, careful with his choice of words. He deserves to be taken seriously — both what he says, and what he omits. Particularly significant is his first substantive statement on foreign affairs, on January 22, at the State Department, when introducing George Mitchell to serve as his special envoy for Middle East peace.
Mitchell is to focus his attention on the Israel-Palestine problem, in the wake of the recent US-Israeli invasion of Gaza. During the murderous assault, Obama remained silent apart from a few platitudes, because, he said, there is only one president — a fact that did not silence him on many other issues. His campaign did, however, repeat his statement that “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” He was referring to Israeli children, not the hundreds of Palestinian children being butchered by US arms, about whom he could not speak, because there was only one president.
On January 22, however, the one president was Barack Obama, so he could speak freely about these matters — avoiding, however, the attack on Gaza, which had, conveniently, been called off just before the inauguration.
Obama’s talk emphasized his commitment to a peaceful settlement. He left its contours vague, apart from one specific proposal: “the Arab peace initiative,” Obama said, “contains constructive elements that could help advance these efforts. Now is the time for Arab states to act on the initiative’s promise by supporting the Palestinian government under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all.”
Obama is not directly falsifying the Arab League proposal, but the carefully framed deceit is instructive.
The Arab League peace proposal does indeed call for normalization of relations with Israel — in the context — repeat, in the context of a two-state settlement in terms of the longstanding international consensus, which the US and Israel have blocked for over 30 years, in international isolation, and still do. The core of the Arab League proposal, as Obama and his Mideast advisers know very well, is its call for a peaceful political settlement in these terms, which are well-known, and recognized to be the only basis for the peaceful settlement to which Obama professes to be committed. The omission of that crucial fact can hardly be accidental, and signals clearly that Obama envisions no departure from US rejectionism. His call for the Arab states to act on a corollary to their proposal, while the US ignores even the existence of its central content, which is the precondition for the corollary, surpasses cynicism.
The most significant acts to undermine a peaceful settlement are the daily US-backed actions in the occupied territories, all recognized to be criminal: taking over valuable land and resources and constructing what the leading architect of the plan, Ariel Sharon, called “Bantustans” for Palestinians — an unfair comparison because the Bantustans were far more viable than the fragments left to Palestinians under Sharon’s conception, now being realized. But the US and Israel even continue to oppose a political settlement in words, most recently in December 2008, when the US and Israel (and a few Pacific islands) voted against a UN resolution supporting “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” (passed 173 to 5, US-Israel opposed, with evasive pretexts).
Obama had not one word to say about the settlement and infrastructure developments in the West Bank, and the complex measures to control Palestinian existence, designed to undermine the prospects for a peaceful two-state settlement. His silence is a grim refutation of his oratorical flourishes about how “I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.”
Also unmentioned is Israel’s use of US arms in Gaza, in violation not only of international but also US law. Or Washington’s shipment of new arms to Israel right at the peak of the US-Israeli attack, surely not unknown to Obama’s Middle East advisers.
Obama was firm, however, that smuggling of arms to Gaza must be stopped. He endorses the agreement of Condoleeza Rice and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni that the Egyptian-Gaza border must be closed — a remarkable exercise of imperial arrogance, as the Financial Times observed: “as they stood in Washington congratulating each other, both officials seemed oblivious to the fact that they were making a deal about an illegal trade on someone else’s border — Egypt in this case. The next day, an Egyptian official described the memorandum as `fictional’.” Egypt’s objections were ignored.
Returning to Obama’s reference to the “constructive” Arab League proposal, as the wording indicates, Obama persists in restricting support to the defeated party in the January 2006 election, the only free election in the Arab world, to which the US and Israel reacted, instantly and overtly, by severely punishing Palestinians for opposing the will of the masters. A minor technicality is that Abbas’s term ran out on January 9, and that Fayyad was appointed without confirmation by the Palestinian parliament (many of them kidnapped and in Israeli prisons). Ha’aretz describes Fayyad as “a strange bird in Palestinian politics. On the one hand, he is the Palestinian politician most esteemed by Israel and the West. However, on the other hand, he has no electoral power whatsoever in Gaza or the West Bank.” The report also notes Fayyad’s “close relationship with the Israeli establishment,” notably his friendship with Sharon’s extremist adviser Dov Weiglass. Though lacking popular support, he is regarded as competent and honest, not the norm in the US-backed political sectors.
Obama’s insistence that only Abbas and Fayyad exist conforms to the consistent Western contempt for democracy unless it is under control.
Obama provided the usual reasons for ignoring the elected government led by Hamas. “To be a genuine party to peace,” Obama declared, “the quartet [US, EU, Russia, UN] has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel’s right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements.” Unmentioned, also as usual, is the inconvenient fact that the US and Israel firmly reject all three conditions. In international isolation, they bar a two-state settlement including a Palestinian state; they of course do not renounce violence; and they reject the quartet’s central proposal, the “road map.” Israel formally accepted it, but with 14 reservations that effectively eliminate its contents (tacitly backed by the US). It is the great merit of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, to have brought these facts to public attention for the first time — and in the mainstream, the only time.
It follows, by elementary reasoning, that neither the US nor Israel is a “genuine party to peace.” But that cannot be. It is not even a phrase in the English language.
It is perhaps unfair to criticize Obama for this further exercise of cynicism, because it is close to universal, unlike his scrupulous evisceration of the core component of the Arab League proposal, which is his own novel contribution.
Also near universal are the standard references to Hamas: a terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel (or maybe all Jews). Omitted are the inconvenient facts that the US-Israel are not only dedicated to the destruction of any viable Palestinian state, but are steadily implementing those policies. Or that unlike the two rejectionist states, Hamas has called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus: publicly, repeatedly, explicitly.
Obama began his remarks by saying: “Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.”
There was nothing about the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against far more extreme threats, such as those occurring daily, with US support, in the occupied territories. But that again is the norm.
Also normal is the enunciation of the principle that Israel has the right to defend itself. That is correct, but vacuous: so does everyone. But in the context the cliche is worse than vacuous: it is more cynical deceit.
The issue is not whether Israel has the right to defend itself, like everyone else, but whether it has the right to do so by force. No one, including Obama, believes that states enjoy a general right to defend themselves by force: it is first necessary to demonstrate that there are no peaceful alternatives that can be tried. In this case, there surely are.
A narrow alternative would be for Israel to abide by a cease-fire, for example, the cease-fire proposed by Hamas political leader Khaled Mishal a few days before Israel launched its attack on December 27. Mishal called for restoring the 2005 agreement. That agreement called for an end to violence and uninterrupted opening of the borders, along with an Israeli guarantee that goods and people could move freely between the two parts of occupied Palestine, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The agreement was rejected by the US and Israel a few months later, after the free election of January 2006 turned out “the wrong way.” There are many other highly relevant cases.
The broader and more significant alternative would be for the US and Israel to abandon their extreme rejectionism, and join the rest of the world — including the Arab states and Hamas — in supporting a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. It should be noted that in the past 30 years there has been one departure from US-Israeli rejectionism: the negotiations at Taba in January 2001, which appeared to be close to a peaceful resolution when Israel prematurely called them off. It would not, then, be outlandish for Obama to agree to join the world, even within the framework of US policy, if he were interested in doing so.
In short, Obama’s forceful reiteration of Israel’s right to defend itself is another exercise of cynical deceit — though, it must be admitted, not unique to him, but virtually universal.
The deceit is particularly striking in this case because the occasion was the appointment of Mitchell as special envoy. Mitchell’s primary achievement was his leading role in the peaceful settlement in northern Ireland. It called for an end to IRA terror and British violence. Implicit is the recognition that while Britain had the right to defend itself from terror, it had no right to do so by force, because there was a peaceful alternative: recognition of the legitimate grievances of the Irish Catholic community that were the roots of IRA terror. When Britain adopted that sensible course, the terror ended. The implications for Mitchell’s mission with regard to Israel-Palestine are so obvious that they need not be spelled out. And omission of them is, again, a striking indication of the commitment of the Obama administration to traditional US rejectionism and opposition to peace, except on its extremist terms.
Obama also praised Jordan for its “constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel” — which contrasts strikingly with US-Israeli refusal to deal with the freely elected government of Palestine, while savagely punishing Palestinians for electing it with pretexts which, as noted, do not withstand a moment’s scrutiny. It is true that Jordan joined the US in arming and training Palestinian security forces, so that they could violently suppress any manifestation of support for the miserable victims of US-Israeli assault in Gaza, also arresting supporters of Hamas and the prominent journalist Khaled Amayreh, while organizing their own demonstrations in support of Abbas and Fatah, in which most participants “were civil servants and school children who were instructed by the PA to attend the rally,” according to the Jerusalem Post. Our kind of democracy.
Obama made one further substantive comment: “As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regimeÉ” He did not, of course, mention that the US-Israel had rejected much the same agreement after the January 2006 election, and that Israel had never observed similar subsequent agreements on borders.
Also missing is any reaction to Israel’s announcement that it rejected the cease-fire agreement, so that the prospects for it to be “lasting” are not auspicious. As reported at once in the press, “Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who takes part in security deliberations, told Army Radio on Thursday that Israel wouldn’t let border crossings with Gaza reopen without a deal to free [Gilad] Schalit” (AP, Jan 22); ÔIsrael to keep Gaza crossings closed…An official said the government planned to use the issue to bargain for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by the Islamist group since 2006 (Financial Times, Jan. 23); “Earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that progress on Corporal Shalit’s release would be a precondition to opening up the border crossings that have been mostly closed since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007” (Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 23); “an Israeli official said there would be tough conditions for any lifting of the blockade, which he linked with the release of Gilad Shalit” (FT, Jan. 23); among many others.
Shalit’s capture is a prominent issue in the West, another indication of Hamas’s criminality. Whatever one thinks about it, it is uncontroversial that capture of a soldier of an attacking army is far less of a crime than kidnapping of civilians, exactly what Israeli forces did the day before the capture of Shalit, invading Gaza city and kidnapping two brothers, then spiriting them across the border where they disappeared into Israel’s prison complex. Unlike the much lesser case of Shalit, that crime was virtually unreported and has been forgotten, along with Israel’s regular practice for decades of kidnapping civilians in Lebanon and on the high seas and dispatching them to Israeli prisons, often held for many years as hostages. But the capture of Shalit bars a cease-fire.
Obama’s State Department talk about the Middle East continued with “the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and PakistanÉ the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” A few hours later, US planes attacked a remote village in Afghanistan, intending to kill a Taliban commander. “Village elders, though, told provincial officials there were no Taliban in the area, which they described as a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds. Women and children were among the 22 dead, they said, according to Hamididan Abdul Rahmzai, the head of the provincial council” (LA Times, Jan. 24).
Afghan president Karzai’s first message to Obama after he was elected in November was a plea to end the bombing of Afghan civilians, reiterated a few hours before Obama was sworn in. This was considered as significant as Karzai’s call for a timetable for departure of US and other foreign forces. The rich and powerful have their “responsibilities.” Among them, the New York Times reported, is to “provide security” in southern Afghanistan, where “the insurgency is homegrown and self-sustaining.” All familiar. From Pravda in the 1980s, for example.

A letter from a Palestinian Child to the US President

A letter from a Palestinian Child to the US President

Precaution: The Palestinian child doesn’t have a specific clear definition for terms like “terrorism” and “peace”.

Dear Mr. President,

First I would like to congratulate you for your new post; I guess it is a good but tiring job. I want to apologize for not watching your inaugural ceremony, we have no electricity in Gaza, and moreover, I was busy dragging out the corpses of my family while the ceremony was taking place. I heard it was a hell of a ceremony, I wish I could shared the world its joy, but you know, it was a bit difficult to feel happy in such circumstances.

But I heard you after the ceremony, two days later a neighbour came to us while we were still searching for the corps of my little sister carrying with him a portable TV. He looked very serious and said: Youth, the new president of the United States is going to comment on what happened. He said that he is optimistic because you assigned someone called Michael or… Mitchell, something like that. He added that he is a good person. Oh, we found the corps of my three years old sister, she was completely burnt, my twenty one years old cousin fainted, but I remembered my father’s advice for me: Be a man. I was about to faint while I was pulling out her body which was stuck under the devastated building and her body started to crumble…. It was totally scorched. Before I lose control, I remembered my mother’s suggestion when we were frightened of the loud voice of the Israeli strikes: When you feel frightened try to think of something else.

Thank you Mr. President, it was your speech that distracted me while I was collecting my sister’s fragments. I heard you saying: Israel has the right to defend itself… achieving peace in the middle east…. Hamas was sending rockets ….. democracy … and other words that I cannot remember. I am sorry again, I was striving to concentrate in your speech but the smell of my sister’s body and my fear that I may lose some of it didn’t help me to grasp what you were saying exactly. I just realised our neighbour’s anger when he turned the TV off murmuring that he wasted the battery for nothing. We had already pulled out the corps of my mother and half of the corps of my father; we couldn’t find the rest of his body. To be frank with you, I never thought of addressing any American president, I mean, it goes without saying that we are killed with American weapons and taxes. The doctors in the hospitals said that Americans were experimenting a new weapon called DIME in this war, I mean the war on Gaza. We don’t talk to the enemy.

But during the funeral I heard you – on the same TV that belongs to the same neighbour who usually turns it off after your speeches cursing his stupid persistence on wasting the battery – in an interview with an Arab TV channel saying that you want to deliver us a message that America is not our enemy. Oh, I felt responsibility, it seems Mr. President that someone is playing behind your back, it seems that you don’t know that we are killed with your weapons, it seems that those who use the veto to protect Israel and let it get away with its crimes against us in the security council are just doing this without even telling you, it seems that you don’t know that your country annually pumps a huge amount of money to Israel, well Mr. President, Israel is the enemy, and we didn’t choose it. We didn’t beg for check points, we didn’t beg for blockage, we didn’t beg for cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs and this new bomb you are experimenting on us.

Besides, I heard you saying that you want to achieve peace in the Middle East; I know, I know, it is us, we are the Middle East. Why Mr. President? Why do you want to achieve more peace in us? We had enough peace; we had more than enough peace during the last war. Do you want to achieve more? The blond woman called Livni said that she wants peace that is why Israel waged this aggression on us. I lost my whole family in this peace process. And those who imposed the blockage on Gaza – during which one of my cousins died because of the shortage of medicine – always talk about peace: Abbas, Fayyad, Mubarak. They are men of peace, exactly like Livni. They did all what they can to achieve peace, I don’t think that you need more peace, do you?

I went to my cousin’s home, he also lost all his family, I am in his custody now. He is my all family and I am his only family. He is twenty one years old as I told you before, he was a student in the faculty of medicine, but he was not allowed to graduate, the blockage and the bad circumstances pushed him to leave the university and work, then he joined the resistance during this last war. He is a Hamas member now. You said you will achieve peace on them.. in them … within them? Something like that… right? Anyway, I don’t remember, I just remember that you want to harm my cousin too because he is a terrorist. I wonder what is wrong with terrorists like my cousin.

He is a very nice guy, you would like him if you met him. He prepares breakfast for me, he cooks very delicious smashed eggs, he takes me to school, he stays all night besides me because I have nightmares every night, and when I wake up startled with the frightening nightmare he puts his hand on my forehead and recites some verses from the Quran and sing me beautiful songs till I fall asleep again. After school he plays with me soccer in the street, he tells me very funny jokes and gorgeous fairy tales, he swings me along with his friends whom you call terrorists and I laugh to tears. On my neighbour’s TV I watched you practicing some terrorism with your daughters; you were playing with them exactly like my cousin plays with me. Why don’t you want my cousin to be a good terrorist like you? Why do you want to make peace in my country while you all live in terrorism happily? Did we annoy you Mr. President? We don’t even know you, if someone in my district did anything wrong to you just tell me and I will oblige him to apologize for you.

Then you tell us that you are not our enemy! Then who is our enemy Mr. President? I see, it is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Oho, my mother used to tell me that I have to lessen my satirical remarks, I am sorry Mr. President, but imagine Mr. Obama that you were dragging the corps of one of your girls – God forbids – while someone is nagging behind you blaming you for the death of your own daughter and never blames the one who killed her, on the contrary, he thinks that the murderer’s crime is entirely justified and you and your daughter deserve what happened to you, what would you think of that guy? Would you think that he is your friend?

Mr. President, I know that you are “not an Arab but you are a decent family man”, but that doesn’t mean that those indecent family Arab men, women and children deserve to be barbequed. You don’t kill people because they are indecent. By the way, my parents were not Hamas members, truly they elected Hamas, but they didn’t work with the resistance.

My mother was happy with the elections; she said that this is democracy. I am very sad that my mother didn’t know that democracy means destruction; she thought it is a nice thing. Now I know that democracy is like peace, they both kill families and children. But it is too late; I wish my mother read more books to know better than that.

The whole situation really confuses me, my cousin says that is because I am still a child, but I am not a child, I am seven years old and I am a man as my father wanted me. Yet I really do not understand when people are occupied what usually they do except resisting? When they are the natives, the owners of the land and someone comes and expel them from this land and build settlements, are they supposed to just leave without any resistance? Would you do this Mr. President? Would you give up your home to somebody else that easy? Why would you live with your daughters safely at home while my home is devastated?

I am not a creature with a tail, I really do not have any tails, you can check yourself. I am a human being like you, exactly like you. Apparently you believe the blond woman when she says that Hamas is hiding among civilians. I will tell you the story because it is obvious that they are deceiving you. Hamas is not a ghost or a monster, it is a movement, that is to say… hmmm how can I explain it to you, yea, like a club or stuff like that, a group of people, very large number of people, those people are mostly like my cousin, I mean, ordinary people, cousins, brothers, neighbours…etc, and naturally such people have families and homes, these homes are in Gaza, so if someone of them is sitting at home with his brothers and sisters and this home is in a building that is full of women and children, actually he is not hiding, I mean if you phone called him he will answer, if you called him from the street he will look to you from the window as he does with his friends.

They are the tenants, they don’t have any place to go to except Gaza, they don’t have any homes except their homes. And the blond woman says that they send rockets, well besides that Israel is occupation and we have to get them out of our lands, and these “cities” you are referring to are settlements built on our occupied lands, and those “civilians” whom you sympathise with are occupiers who were brought by the Israeli army to live in our lands, beside all this, she is a liar, there was no ceasefire at all, during the calming or the ceasefire we had the Israeli planes flying over our heads, striking, killing six people one of them was my cousin’s neighbour, he was wounded and left on the passage to Egypt because the borders were blocked and he died on the borders.

So I can assure you that these six were dead, because my cousin attended his neighbour’s funeral. See? she is lying. I wonder how an adult woman like her lies all the time like that, and you are a kind person, I can understand why you believe her, that is because naturally an adult shouldn’t lie, but life is full of surprises, I swear she is lying, I tell you what, let her face me personally with what she is telling the world, I will tell her that she is lying and she will never be able to deny it, I bet she will even refuse to face me.

I really don’t want to be your enemy Mr. President, you Americans have nice movies, nice burger, nice coke, we can easily love you, but you don’t give us any space. Arming Israelis to shower us with phosphorus peace, burning us with DIME peace, destroying our schools with cluster peace and peacefully making me an orphan… and now I am threatened to lose the last person left in my family, that doesn’t make you a biased mediator or a strong ally to the enemy Mr. President, that makes you THE ENEMY.

I don’t think it is smart to have a strong enemy like you, but what can I do Mr. President? Apparently it is your choice and I have nothing to do about it.

Don’t worry Mr. President, everything is settled, I live with my cousin, he is preparing me emotionally that I may lose him, he told me what to do when he dies.

I know what to do, I went to a friend and I asked him to list me with the resistance and not to tell my cousin, he said that I am still a child, so I asked my cousin (without telling him the reasons of course) to find a way to smuggle milk and cheese through the tunnels so I can grow up fast and strong and join the resistance to be a nice young man like my cousin, to defend other families, to save the souls of other mothers and fathers, to protect other children from becoming orphans like me.

As for you, try to reconsider finding out who annoyed you in my district and made you insisting on killing us all, I swear I will tear him into pieces.

Best regards to you and special respect to your daughters…. I’ll pray for them in order not to face my destiny.

Sincerely

Ali

A letter from a Palestinian Child to the US President


Precaution: The Palestinian child doesn’t have a specific clear definition for terms like “terrorism” and “peace”.

Dear Mr. President,
First I would like to congratulate you for your new post; I guess it is a good but tiring job. I want to apologize for not watching your inaugural ceremony, we have no electricity in Gaza, and moreover, I was busy dragging out the corpses of my family while the ceremony was taking place. I heard it was a hell of a ceremony, I wish I could shared the world its joy, but you know, it was a bit difficult to feel happy in such circumstances.
But I heard you after the ceremony, two days later a neighbour came to us while we were still searching for the corps of my little sister carrying with him a portable TV. He looked very serious and said: Youth, the new president of the United States is going to comment on what happened. He said that he is optimistic because you assigned someone called Michael or… Mitchell, something like that. He added that he is a good person. Oh, we found the corps of my three years old sister, she was completely burnt, my twenty one years old cousin fainted, but I remembered my father’s advice for me: Be a man. I was about to faint while I was pulling out her body which was stuck under the devastated building and her body started to crumble…. It was totally scorched. Before I lose control, I remembered my mother’s suggestion when we were frightened of the loud voice of the Israeli strikes: When you feel frightened try to think of something else.
Thank you Mr. President, it was your speech that distracted me while I was collecting my sister’s fragments. I heard you saying: Israel has the right to defend itself… achieving peace in the middle east…. Hamas was sending rockets ….. democracy … and other words that I cannot remember. I am sorry again, I was striving to concentrate in your speech but the smell of my sister’s body and my fear that I may lose some of it didn’t help me to grasp what you were saying exactly. I just realised our neighbour’s anger when he turned the TV off murmuring that he wasted the battery for nothing. We had already pulled out the corps of my mother and half of the corps of my father; we couldn’t find the rest of his body. To be frank with you, I never thought of addressing any American president, I mean, it goes without saying that we are killed with American weapons and taxes. The doctors in the hospitals said that Americans were experimenting a new weapon called DIME in this war, I mean the war on Gaza. We don’t talk to the enemy.
But during the funeral I heard you – on the same TV that belongs to the same neighbour who usually turns it off after your speeches cursing his stupid persistence on wasting the battery – in an interview with an Arab TV channel saying that you want to deliver us a message that America is not our enemy. Oh, I felt responsibility, it seems Mr. President that someone is playing behind your back, it seems that you don’t know that we are killed with your weapons, it seems that those who use the veto to protect Israel and let it get away with its crimes against us in the security council are just doing this without even telling you, it seems that you don’t know that your country annually pumps a huge amount of money to Israel, well Mr. President, Israel is the enemy, and we didn’t choose it. We didn’t beg for check points, we didn’t beg for blockage, we didn’t beg for cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs and this new bomb you are experimenting on us.
Besides, I heard you saying that you want to achieve peace in the Middle East; I know, I know, it is us, we are the Middle East. Why Mr. President? Why do you want to achieve more peace in us? We had enough peace; we had more than enough peace during the last war. Do you want to achieve more? The blond woman called Livni said that she wants peace that is why Israel waged this aggression on us. I lost my whole family in this peace process. And those who imposed the blockage on Gaza – during which one of my cousins died because of the shortage of medicine – always talk about peace: Abbas, Fayyad, Mubarak. They are men of peace, exactly like Livni. They did all what they can to achieve peace, I don’t think that you need more peace, do you?
I went to my cousin’s home, he also lost all his family, I am in his custody now. He is my all family and I am his only family. He is twenty one years old as I told you before, he was a student in the faculty of medicine, but he was not allowed to graduate, the blockage and the bad circumstances pushed him to leave the university and work, then he joined the resistance during this last war. He is a Hamas member now. You said you will achieve peace on them.. in them … within them? Something like that… right? Anyway, I don’t remember, I just remember that you want to harm my cousin too because he is a terrorist. I wonder what is wrong with terrorists like my cousin.
He is a very nice guy, you would like him if you meet him. He prepares breakfast for me, he cooks very delicious smashed eggs, he takes me to school, he stays all night besides me because I have nightmares every night, and when I wake up startled with the frightening nightmare he puts his hand on my forehead and recites some verses from the Quran and sing me beautiful songs till I fall asleep again. After school he plays with me soccer in the street, he tells me very funny jokes and gorgeous fairy tales, he swings me along with his friends whom you call terrorists and I laugh to tears. On my neighbour’s TV I watched you practicing some terrorism with your daughters; you were playing with them exactly like my cousin plays with me. Why don’t you want my cousin to be a good terrorist like you? Why do you want to make peace in my country while you all live in terrorism happily? Did we annoy you Mr. President? We don’t even know you, if someone in my district did anything wrong to you just tell me and I will oblige him to apologize for you.
Then you tell us that you are not our enemy! Then who is our enemy Mr. President? I see, it is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Oho, my mother used to tell me that I have to lessen my satirical remarks, I am sorry Mr. President, but imagine Mr. Obama that you were dragging the corps of one of your girls – God forbids – while someone is nagging behind you blaming you for the death of your own daughter and never blames the one who killed her, on the contrary, he thinks that the murderer’s crime is entirely justified and you and your daughter deserve what happened to you, what would you think of that guy? Would you think that he is your friend?
Mr. President, I know that you are “not an Arab but you are a decent family man”, but that doesn’t mean that those indecent family Arab men, women and children deserve to be barbequed. You don’t kill people because they are indecent. By the way, my parents were not Hamas members, truly they elected Hamas, but they didn’t work with the resistance.
My mother was happy with the elections; she said that this is democracy. I am very sad that my mother didn’t know that democracy means destruction; she thought it is a nice thing. Now I know that democracy is like peace, they both kill families and children. But it is too late; I wish my mother read more books to know better than that.
The whole situation really confuses me, my cousin says that is because I am still a child, but I am not a child, I am seven years old and I am a man as my father wanted me. Yet I really do not understand when people are occupied what usually they do except resisting? When they are the natives, the owners of the land and someone comes and expel them from this land and build settlements, are they supposed to just leave without any resistance? Would you do this Mr. President? Would you give up your home to somebody else that easy? Why would you live with your daughters safely at home while my home is devastated?
I am not a creature with a tail, I really do not have any tails, you can check yourself. I am a human being like you, exactly like you. Apparently you believe the blond woman when she says that Hamas is hiding among civilians. I will tell you the story because it is obvious that they are deceiving you. Hamas is not a ghost or a monster, it is a movement, that is to say… hmmm how can I explain it to you, yea, like a club or stuff like that, a group of people, very large number of people, those people are mostly like my cousin, I mean, ordinary people, cousins, brothers, neighbours…etc, and naturally such people have families and homes, these homes are in Gaza, so if someone of them is sitting at home with his brothers and sisters and this home is in a building that is full of women and children, actually he is not hiding, I mean if you phone called him he will answer, if you called him from the street he will look to you from the window as he does with his friends.
They are the tenants, they don’t have any place to go to except Gaza, they don’t have any homes except their homes. And the blond woman says that they send rockets, well besides that Israel is occupation and we have to get them out of our lands, and these “cities” you are referring to are settlements built on our occupied lands, and those “civilians” whom you sympathise with are occupiers who were brought by the Israeli army to live in our lands, beside all this, she is a liar, there was no ceasefire at all, during the calming or the ceasefire we had the Israeli planes flying over our heads, striking, killing six people one of them was my cousin’s neighbour, he was wounded and left on the passage to Egypt because the borders were blocked and he died on the borders.
So I can assure you that these six were dead, because my cousin attended his neighbour’s funeral. See? she is lying. I wonder how an adult woman like her lies all the time like that, and you are a kind person, I can understand why you believe her, that is because naturally an adult shouldn’t lie, but life is full of surprises, I swear she is lying, I tell you what, let her face me personally with what she is telling the world, I will tell her that she is lying and she will never be able to deny it, I bet she will even refuse to face me.
I really don’t want to be your enemy Mr. President, you Americans have nice movies, nice burger, nice coke, we can easily love you, but you don’t give us any space. Arming Israelis to shower us with phosphorus peace, burning us with DIME peace, destroying our schools with cluster peace and peacefully making me an orphan… and now I am threatened to lose the last person left in my family, that doesn’t make you a biased mediator or a strong ally to the enemy Mr. President, that makes you THE ENEMY.
I don’t think it is smart to have a strong enemy like you, but what can I do Mr. President? Apparently it is your choice and I have nothing to do about it.
Don’t worry Mr. President, everything is settled, I live with my cousin, he is preparing me emotionally that I may lose him, he told me what to do when he dies.
I know what to do, I went to a friend and I asked him to list me with the resistance and not to tell my cousin, he said that I am still a child, so I asked my cousin (without telling him the reasons of course) to find a way to smuggle milk and cheese through the tunnels so I can grow up fast and strong and join the resistance to be a nice young man like my cousin, to defend other families, to save the souls of other mothers and fathers, to protect other children from becoming orphans like me.
As for you, try to reconsider finding out who annoyed you in my district and made you insisting on killing us all, I swear I will tear him into pieces.

Best regards to you and special respect to your daughters…. I’ll pray for them in order not to face my destiny.
Sincerely
Ali

PCHR: human rights violations

War on the Wounded: human rights violations
perpetrated against Palestinian medical personnel in the Gaza Strip

A PCHR report on attacks perpetrated by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)
against Palestinian medical personnel during the IOF military offensive in Gaza
27 December 2008 – 13 January 2009

Preface
In light of continuing attacks being launched by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the population of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned that humanitarian services in the Gaza Strip, especially emergency medical services, are in dangerous of collapsing. During their ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the IOF have continually attacked humanitarian and medical personnel whilst they have been on duty.
PCHR has consistently demanded that IOF cease all attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip, including all humanitarian staff, and that IOF allow the free flow of goods, including medication and humanitarian aid, into the Gaza Strip. This report includes testimonies from, and interviews with, eyewitnesses and survivors of IOF attacks, including officials from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) and staff from humanitarian organizations.
According to PCHR investigations, which include statements from eye-witnesses, IOF have perpetrated crimes amounting to war crimes against medical personnel working in the Gaza Strip, in clear violation of the (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention, which affords special protection to medical personnel. Since the launch of their military offensive against the population of the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008, IOF have killed seven Palestinian medical personnel, and wounded dozens of others, whilst they were attempting to evacuate and transfer the dead and injured. IOF have launched ground, sea and air attacks targeting medical personnel and medical facilities, including ambulances, and in addition have obstructed the access of medical personnel to the dead and injured.
Blatant IOF attacks against Palestinian medical personnel have undermined their work during this IOF offensive, by obstructing, and sometimes forcibly preventing, their access to dozens of dead and injured civilians across the Gaza Strip. In many cases documented by PCHR, medical personnel were only able to access the dead and injured up to 72 hours after they had been killed or injured. The Centre has also documented cases of IOF denying medical personnel access to people who subsequently bled to death. In addition, medical personnel, and their vehicles, have been obstructed whilst attempting to evacuate the dead and injured from houses and other civilian facilities that had been targeted by IOF, including houses that had been set on fire. Medical personnel were obstructed by IOF vehicles positioned in the vicinity of these houses and other civilian facilities – and, in some instances, IOF continued shelling and bombardments whilst the medical personnel were clearly evacuating the dead and injured.
In other incidents documented by PCHR, Palestinian medical personnel were prevented from performing their duties despite having secured prior coordination with IOF via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC subsequently criticized in the strongest possible terms IOF attacks on medical and humanitarian personnel in the Gaza Strip. ICRC also demanded that IOF respect international humanitarian law, including the freedom of movement afforded to medical personnel in order for them to evacuate the dead and the injured.
Based on its investigations, PCHR believes that dozens of victims may have died because they were denied emergency medical treatment due to IOF obstruction of medical personnel and their facilities. In spite of repeated attempts by Palestinian medical personnel to evacuate victims, as well as Palestinian medical personnel having secured prior coordination with the IOF via ICRC, IOF continued to prevent medical personnel from accessing victims in order to provide emergency medical treatment, and to transfer them to hospital for treatment.
PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention, relative to the protection of civilians in times of war, to end their shameful silence regarding abuses being perpetrated by the IOF. In addition, the Centre calls on IOF to immediately cease all human rights violations, including war crimes, being perpetrated against all civilians in the Gaza Strip, including the targeting of humanitarian staff, which includes medical personnel carrying out their duties in ambulances and other civil defense vehicles. The Centre also demands that IOF immediately cease targeting medical facilities, in order that medical personnel be allowed to carry out their duties to protect, and treat, the sick and injured.

Violations of the Right to Life, Freedom and Personal Security
The rights to life, freedom and personal security are enshrined in international humanitarian and human rights law. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that “every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life…”.
The (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention, relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war, prohibits murder of all kinds, as well as mutilation, cruel and inhumane treatment and torture. In addition, the Convention has two additional protocols that afford special protection to medical personnel and humanitarian staff; these are enshrined in articles 14-24. The Convention also guarantees respect for the freedom of movement of medical personnel, and ensures they be granted all necessary material facilities for them to perform their duties, including removal of victims, attending to and transferring injured and sick civilians, pregnant women, and children who require vaccinations.
Article 21 of the Convention states that, “convoys of vehicles or hospital trains on land or specially provided vessels on sea, conveying wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, shall be respected and protected in the same manner as the hospitals provided for in Article 18….” Article 23 [of the same Convention] states that, “Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary. It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases….. such consignments shall be forwarded as rapidly as possible…”
Testimonies from Palestinian victims of IOF attacks, eyewitnesses and Palestinian medical personnel indicate that during the reporting period (27 December 2008- 13 January 2009) IOF killed medical personnel, including two doctors, whilst they were on duty and attempting to evacuate the dead and wounded in Gaza Strip. Investigations carried out by PCHR indicate IOF targeted the medical personnel despite the fact they were wearing clothing that clearly identified them. In addition, during the reporting period, IOF also killed one truck driver working for the UN Work and Relief Agency (UNRWA) whilst he was transporting humanitarian aid near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. A second truck driver was seriously injured in the same incident. UNRWA subsequently suspended its entire Gaza Strip operations for twenty four hours, stating that IOF had targeted its staff despite the fact that its vehicles are clearly distinguished by blue UN flags, and UNRWA had secured prior coordination with IOF concerning the exact location and movements of its staff.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, during the reporting period IOF intensified their targeting of Palestinian medical personnel who were on duty in areas where IOF were carrying out military offensives. By doing so, IOF violated the right of these personnel to carry out their humanitarian duties, including treatment; evacuation, and transfer of the sick and injured. In addition, IOF, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, prevented evacuation and transfer of dead civilians and members of the armed resistance. In spite of repeated appeals by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and other international humanitarian organizations, IOF continued to launch attacks on Palestinian medical personnel. Dozens of Palestinian medical personnel were subsequently injured during the reporting period.
In the majority of cases investigated by PCHR, the deaths and injuries of these medical ersonnel were due to IOF use of excessive lethal force, their utter disregard for the lives of civilians, and their deliberate targeting of humanitarian staff. By targeting medical personnel, IOF clearly intended to intimidate them, and to prevent them from providing medical assistance to the sick and injured. PCHR notes that IOF have prevented medical personnel from carrying out their duties in the majority of areas that have been subjected to IOF attacks since the launch of the IOF offensive against the population of the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008.

PCHR documented the following cases of IOF targeting Palestinian medical
personnel and humanitarian staff during the reporting period:

• Wednesday 31 December, 2008: paramedic killed inside ambulance
At approximately 12:30 on Wednesday, 31 December 2008, an IOF aircraft fired a
missile at a group of Palestinian resistance members who were standing in the vicinity of
Jabal al-Rayes, east of Gaza City. One of the members was immediately killed and
another was injured. Approximately an hour later, an ambulance from the Palestinian
Ministry of Health (MOH) drove to the area in order to evacuate the wounded man. An
IOF aircraft then fired a second missile towards the ambulance. Twenty one year old
paramedic Mohammed Sa’id Abu Hassira was killed whilst inside the ambulance. Thirty
five year old doctor, Ihab ‘Umar al-Madhoon, who was also inside the ambulance at the
time, sustained serious wounds, and died of his injuries later the same day. The
ambulance driver, thirty year old Heshmat ‘Ajjour, also sustained serious injuries.

• 4 January, 2009: three paramedics killed by IOF missile
At approximately 16:00 on 4 January 2009, IOF killed three Palestinian paramedics
whilst they were on duty in the al-Dahdouh area, south of Tal al-Hawa, in Gaza City.
Twenty four year old Yaser Kamal Shbeir, twenty five year old Anas Fadel Na’im, and
twenty four year old Ra’afat Abdul ‘Al, arrived in al-Dahdouh in a convoy of two
ambulances, and IOF aircrafts fired several missiles into the area at the same time they
arrived. Nevertheless, the three paramedics gathered stretchers, climbed down from the
ambulances and set off to evacuate people who had been injured in the area. An IOF
aircraft then fired a missile at the three of them, killing all three men instantly.
Yahya Abdul Halim Abdul Mohsen Hassan, age 38, was driving one of the ambulances.
He gave this testimony to PCHR:
“At approximately 16:00 on 4 January, I was working at the Feta Hospital in Tal al-
Hawa when we started getting a lot of calls from civilians living in al-Dahdouh. They
said a number of local people had been injured in the area. I immediately drove [to al-
Dahdouh] with two paramedics, Fadel Na’im and Ra’afat Abdul ‘Al. My colleague,
ambulance driver Hazim al-Barrawi, also headed to the area with paramedic Yaser
Kamal Shbeir. When we arrived, we met a young child, who was crying, and he pointed
out where the injured people were located. It was a dirt track, and so it was difficult for
us to drive in that direction, so the three paramedics stepped down from the ambulances
and started to walk. They had stretchers with them, and they headed off to find the
injured. As they were walking with the child, who was guiding them, the Israelis fired a
missile at them. They [the IOF] also fired missiles towards me, and towards Hazem al-
Barrawi, whose ambulance was stuck in the ruts in the road. Hazem climbed into my
ambulance, and we quickly drove away, as the Israelis continued firing missiles towards
us. A missile landed just behind my ambulance and I heard a third missile whilst I was
driving. When we arrived back at the hospital, we reported what happened to the head of
the ambulance station. We told him we had fled the area without being able to evacuate
the injured, or take our colleagues, because the Israelis had been firing missiles at us.
The head of the ambulance station drove to the ambulance headquarters of the
Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) which is close by. Then, three ambulances
drove to the area of the attack. But even after coordinating wit the Israelis, they could
only evacuate two of the paramedics; the Israelis only allowed them to take one dead
body in each ambulance. So, the body of Ra’afat Abdul ‘Al, plus the body of the young
child, and the bodies of other martyrs who had been killed, all remained in the area. Our
crews were not able to evacuate them at the time, though I know these bodies were
evacuated later.”

• 4 January, 2009: paramedic dies after ambulance shelled by IOF
At approximately 10:00 on Sunday, 4 January, IOF bombarded a crowd of civilians near
Abu ‘Ybeida Ibn al-Jarrah school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. Locals rushed
to rescue the injured. An ambulance from al-‘Awda Hospital also drove to the area to
evacuate the injured. At approximately 10:10, IOF bombarded the same area again. Nine
civilians, including a father and two of his sons, were killed as a result, and a number of
civilians, including two paramedics, sustained injuries. One of them, thirty three year old
‘Arafa Hani Abdul Dayem, subsequently died of his injuries.
Ambulance driver, Khalid Yousif Abu Sa’ada, gave the following testimony to PCHR:
“At approximately 10:15 on Sunday, 4 January, I was told that there were injured people
near the western roundabout in Beit Lahia town. I immediately drove to the area with two
paramedics, ‘Arafa Hani Abdul Dayem (age 33) and ‘Ala’a Usama Sarhan (age 26).
When we arrived, we saw a person who had been critically injured. The two paramedics
climbed out of the ambulance to evacuate him into the ambulance. I drove approximately
ten meters ahead in order to evacuate another injured person. Then, an IOF tank fired a
shell at us. The shell directly hit the ambulance, and ten civilians, including the two
paramedics, were injured. My colleague ‘Arafa Hani Abdul Dayem died of his injuries
later the same day.”

• 12 January, 2009: doctor decapitated by IOF artillery shell
At approximately 16:10 on Monday, 12 January, IOF fired an artillery shell at the al-
Banna building in al-Zarqa Street in Jabalia town. Three ambulances quickly arrived at
the scene: one ambulance was from the military medical services, the second from the
civil defense services and the third from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH).
Medical personnel in the three ambulances immediately left their vehicles in order to
evacuate the casualties. Approximately seven minutes later, IOF fired a second artillery
shell at the al-Banna building, whilst the medical personnel were evacuating the
decapitated body of a man who had been killed by the first shell. The second shell hit
Doctor Issa Abdul Rahim Saleh, age 32, who was a member of the military medical
services. He was decapitated by the artillery shell. His decapitated head struck his
colleague, paramedic Ahmed Abdul Bari Abu Foul, age 25, a member of the civil defense
services. Ahmed Abu Foul also sustained shrapnel injuries to his head and back. The
body of Issa Saleh, and his injured colleague, Ahmed Abu Foul, were evacuated by
ambulance to Kamal ‘Odwan Hospital in Beit Lahia.
Ahmed Abu Foul told a PCHR field worker that he had been in the targeted building
attempting to evacuate the dead and the wounded, and that he and his colleagues had all
been wearing uniforms that clearly identified them as medical personnel. Abu Foul also
said that the ambulances were clearly marked as medical vehicles, and were also flying
flags to indicate their status. He said he was “astonished” that he and his colleagues were
indiscriminately shelled whilst trying to evacuate casualties. At the time of publication,
Ahmed Abu Foul is still at hospital being treated for his injuries.
IOF attacks on Palestinian medical personnel are not accidents or mistakes. The available
evidence strongly indicates IOF deliberate use of excessive lethal force against medical
personnel and their vehicles, with the intent to target and kill or injure the medical
personnel, as well as to destroy their vehicles.

• IOF open fire at Erez Crossing, killing UN staff member
On Thursday, 8 January, IOF opened fire at a convoy of trucks that were waiting near
Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing, in order to transport humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip
for UNRWA. A driver working for UNRWA was killed, and a second driver injured in
the attack. Investigations conducted by PCHR indicate that IOF soldiers positioned at
Erez crossing opened fired at the group while they were waiting in their vehicles near the
crossing, killing thirty two year old Bassam Qouta, 32, who was working for the
Shuheibar Transport Company. The company had contracted some of its drivers to work
with UNRWA.
Immediately after the death of Bassam Qouta, UNRWA announced that, in light of its
humanitarian staff having been targeted, it was being forced to suspend its entire
operations in the Gaza Strip. Later the same day, 8 January, Al-Jazeera TV interviewed
John Ging, Head of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip. John Ging told al-Jazeera that
UNRWA had taken the decision to suspend its operations and activities in Gaza,
including aid distribution for approximately 750,000 Palestinian refugees in the Gaza
Strip, as well as suspending activities in schools and other institutes, in light of IOF
attacks on UNRWA facilities in Gaza. John Ging called for the application of the
principles of the Fourth Geneva Convention, especially the provisions relative to the
protection of humanitarian staff and organizations in times of war. An UNRWA
spokesman reiterated that the Agency had taken the decision to suspend all its operations
in Gaza because of increasing hostile actions committed by IOF against UNRWA
premises and personnel. He confirmed that UNRWA trucks had come under IOF fire near
Erez crossing despite having secured prior coordination with the IOF, and that one driver
had been killed and a second injured in the attack. He added that IOF had also fired at an
UNRWA armoured car driven by UNRWA staff member Judy Clark, who is John Ging’s
assistant, and who was not injured only because she was inside an armoured car.
Subsequently, Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing had to be closed as Palestinian
transport staff in Gaza refused to work, in protest at the killing of their colleague.
UNRWA reiterated these violations had taken place despite the fact that UNRWA had
informed IOF of its activities, the movements and locations of its entire staff, and their
means of transport.
UNRWA subsequently resumed its activities on Saturday, 10 January, after IOF pledged,
in a meeting with the UNRWA commissioner, not to target UNRWA staff and facilities
in the Gaza Strip.

• Preventing medical personnel from evacuating the dead and
injured
Preliminary investigations carried out by CPHR, including interviews with victims and
eyewitness, indicate that Palestinian medical personnel, and staff working for the
Palestinian civil defense, have faced extreme risks throughout the ongoing IOF military
offensive in the Gaza Strip. IOF have prevented the free movement of Palestinian
medical personnel, and thus prevented their access to the sick, dead and injured. As a
direct result, hundreds of injured people were left unattended. Civilians who had been
killed or injured were sometimes unattended for several days due to IOF preventing
access to medical personnel, despite persistent attempts by medical personnel, and the
ICRC, to secure coordination in order to be able to reach the victims.
PCHR has documented hundreds of cases in which Palestinian civilians have been
injured by indiscriminate IOF shelling and bombardments, and Palestinian medical
personnel were subsequently unable to reach the injured in order to evacuate and
hospitalize them. The majority of these cases have been in areas invaded by IOF ground
troops, especially in Gaza City, where the districts of al-Zaytoun, al-Sheja’ya, al-Sheikh
‘Ajleen, and the al-Karam apartment buildings in northern Gaza city were especially
targeted. As regards the northern Gaza Strip, al-Salatin district, al-‘Atatra, Ezzbit ‘Abed
Rabbo area and al-Sha’ima’a were all severely affected. In theses areas, the injured, who
were mainly civilians, were frightened, isolated and often unable to leave the area due to
IOF attacks. Civilians were unable to access medical services, and some of them
subsequently died before medical personnel could reach them. In al-Zaytoun, medical
personnel managed to evacuate dozens of the dead and the injured only four days after
they had been killed or injured, because the situation remained so dangerous.
• Maher Husein Nassar, age 44, is married with five children. He lives in al-‘Atatra
district in the north of the Gaza Strip, and gave this testimony to a PCHR field
worker.
“At approximately 18:00 on Sunday, 4 January, the Israelis started to invade our area. I
immediately left my house with my wife and five children to look for a safer place. But we
could not get out of the area because of intensive [IOF] firing and Israeli smoke bombs
that created thick clouds. We also couldn’t find any transport to get us out of the area,
because all the streets had been bombed a few hours before the beginning of the ground
invasion and there were craters and holes all over the streets. So we were forced to
return home. At night, none of us were able to sleep because IOF were firing and shelling
all night. The electricity and water system had also been destroyed during the shelling.
Early in the morning of [Monday], 5 January, I heard shells landing on the houses of our
neighbours. At approximately 05:00, a shell landed on our house, which is composed of
just one storey. The shell hit one of the walls and my family was injured. Ten minutes
later, a second shell landed on our house. My wife and three of my children; Ala’a, (9),
Yasmin (8) and Mohammed (5), were hurt again. I telephoned the ambulance station.
They told me they would send us an ambulance as soon as possible. I waited more than
an hour and then called them again, and they told me that the ambulance was not able to
access the area due to heavy shelling. I tried to treat my wife and children myself as they
were seriously injured, but only had basic first aid stuff at home. This situation continued
for another full day. We spent the whole time living in fear and panic about what was
going to happen next. The IOF continued to heavily shell, and to fire around us. In the
morning of Tuesday (6 January), we finally managed to leave our house and walked
about 300 meters, where we found an ambulance. The ambulance took us to Kamal
‘Odwan hospital, where my wife and children were treated. My daughter, Yasmin, is still
being treated in hospital.”
• Mohammed al-Sultan, age 25, from al-Salatin district in Beit Lahia, told PCHR
that his relative, Mohamed Ali Ahmed al-Sultan, age 53, was injured by shrapnel
when IOF fired a shell at a group of civilians standing near his house at
approximately 13:00 on Wednesday, 7 January. The shrapnel hit Mohamed Ali
Ahmed al-Sultan in the back and he collapsed. Paramedics were unable to reach
him, and he was left bleeding for approximately one hour and a half. His relatives
phoned ambulance services, but were told the ambulances could not evacuate him
immediately due to heavy IOF firing, and because the local streets had been
severely damaged by F-16 missiles that had caused craters. An hour and a half
later, at approximately 14:30, an ambulance reached Mohamed Ali Ahmed al-
Sultan, but he had bled to death.
• Mohammed al-Sultan also told PCHR that, at approximately 09:00 on Tuesday, 6
January, Mohammed Abdul Bari al-Sultan,19, had been shot by a sniper whilst
inside his house near al-Iman Mosque in the al-Salatin district. Al-Sultan said
they telephoned for ambulances, but the ambulances could not enter the area due
to heavy firing and shelling. One hour later, the family of the injured man took the
risk of transporting him by their own car Kamal ‘Odwan hospital in Beit Lahia.
• Tala’at ‘Asa’ad Sa’adi Hamouda, age 51, a director in the Ministry of Social
Affairs, is married to 38 year old Intesar Abdul Wahhab Hammouda. They have
five children. He gave PCHR the following testimony.
“At approximately 02:00, on 11 January, I was at home with my family. We were hiding
in one bedroom, because the Israelis were firing heavily, and also shelling in our area. At
midnight they began invading our area, and then there was suddenly a loud explosion in
a house neighboring ours. The targeted house belongs to Jawad al-Dahdouh. Shrapnel
flew into the bedroom where we were hiding. Thanks to Allah, nobody was hurt. We
moved into the hall for our own safety. I could hear the sound of heavy military vehicles.
Tanks were approaching our house. Suddenly, the tanks fired several shells at our house.
The shells hit one room, and also penetrated the wall of the bedroom and the hall. The
shells killed my son Fares, (age two and a half), who was in my wife’s arms. My wife was
also injured, and so was son Mahmoud, (age17). I immediately called the ICRC for an
ambulance – but the person I spoke to told me they could do nothing anything before
eight o’clock that night. I phoned the local ambulance station, and then I also telephoned
local radio stations and appealed for help. But no-one could help us. My son Mahmoud
bled to death at about six o’clock the next morning. At about 07:30, the Israelis withdrew
from the area, and half an hour later, my son Ihab went to the al-Quds Hospital and
found an ambulance that came to take my injured wife, and the bodies of my sons Fares
and Mahmoud, to hospital. My wife is still in the hospital. Shrapnel penetrated her
abdomen, her right arm, her legs and her face. Because of the Israelis, my two sons are
dead, my wife is injured and my house is half destroyed.”

• Study Case (1): targeting the work of the Palestinian Red
Crescent Society (PRCS)
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has also been targeted by the IOF during
its ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip. PRCS medical personnel have been
prevented from accessing the dead and injured throughout the IOF offensive, and a
number of people subsequently died of their injuries. Sick and injured civilians, including
women waiting to give birth, have been denied emergency medical attention. According
to PRCS documentation and data, the IOF have targeted their ambulances, and other
means of transport PRCS has used to evacuate the dead, sick and injured. Below is a
summary of attacks on PRCS staff and facilities during the reporting period.
• On 5 January, IOF fired at two PRCS ambulances while they were driving to
evacuate injured civilians. One of the ambulances was damaged, but no personnel
were injured.
• On 6 January, having secured prior coordination with IOF, three PRCS
ambulances and an ICRC vehicle entered the al-Samoubi area in al-Zaytoun
district in eastern Gaza city, in order to evacuate dead and injured people who had
been left unattended in the area for several days. PRCS had spent four days
securing the coordination, and their efforts had been repeatedly refused.
• Also on 6 January, a medical personnel member of the military medical services
was injured, and two PRCS ambulances damaged, when an IOF aircraft targeted
them while they were attempting to evacuate injured people in Jabalia in the
northern Gaza Strip.
• At approximately 17:00, on 6 January, a PRCS ambulance drove to al-Samoubi
area in al-Zaytoun district, south of Gaza City, to evacuate an injured person,
having secured coordination with IOF via the ICRC. When the ambulance arrived
at its destination, IOF fired at it. The ambulance was damaged, but the medical
personnel were not injured.
• At approximately 18:00, on 6 January, IOF fired at a PRCS ambulance in the al-
‘Atatra area. No damages or casualties were reported. The ambulance drove to the
area after coordination had been secured with IOF via the ICRC.
• On 7 January, Hasan al-‘Attal, a PRCS paramedic, was injured in the left thigh,
when IOF fired at him while he was trying to evacuate injured people near the
Zemmu roundabout in Jabalia.
• According to PRCS sources, Hassan al-‘Attal, who had worked for PRCS for ten
years, was trying to evacuate a dead body after having received appeals from
locals. He began the evacuation after the IOF three hour ceasefire began at 13:00.
Hassan al-‘Attal said he and his colleague were both wearing uniforms that
clearly identified them as medical personnel. He gave PCHR the following
testimony:
“After the ambulance station had reported that injured people were near Zemmu
roundabout in Jabalia, I drove the ambulance to the reported location. We could not
reach the site by ambulance, so I left the ambulance with a PRCS volunteer who was
accompanying me. We took a stretcher and headed off to evacuate a dead person who
was in a location that nobody had been able to reach because of the [IOF] firing. We
carried the body to the stretcher and walked towards the ambulance. A few seconds later,
we were being fired at by the Israelis. I was wounded in my left thigh. The volunteer
helped me to reach the ambulance. I was taken to al-‘Awda Hospital in Jabalia refugee
camp and then referred to al-Quds hospital for more treatment”.
• Also on 7 January, two PRCS paramedics sustained injuries when they were
directly targeted by IOF gunfire.
• Also on 7 January, a PRCS paramedic sustained injuries when IOF fired at a
PRCS ambulance while the personnel were trying to evacuate injured people in
the al-Jurun district of Jabalia. The ambulance was damaged.
• At approximately 16:00, on 9 January, IOF fired at an convoy of eleven
ambulances, including three PRCS ambulances, near the al-Shuhadeh crossroads
which is located near the ex-settlement of Netzarim. The convoy was being led by
a clearly marked ICRC vehicle. As a result, a Palestinian member of ICRC staff
was injured and the ICRC vehicle was damaged.
• On 9 January, seven PRCS ambulances, plus a number of ICRC vehicles and a
number of international solidarity activists headed to al-Zaytoun district, and to
the al-‘Atatra area, to evacuate a number of the dead and injured. The team
managed to evacuate three bodies and transferred eighty people from six families
to the al-Quds Hospital for medical treatment. The team members were not able to
continue searching for the dead and injured due to repeated IOF firing. PCHR
notes that the PRCS and ICRC had spent six days attempting to secure
coordination with IOF to enter the area, but all previous attempts had failed.
• On the same day, IOF fired at PRCS ambulances and medical personnel in the al-
‘Atatra area, whilst they were trying to enter to the area with an ICRC vehicle in
order to evacuate the dead and injured. One of the PRCS ambulances was
damaged in the attack.
• Also on the same day, PRCS ambulance driver Marwan Hammouda was injured
by a bullet in the left leg when IOF fired at his ambulance in Jabalia.
Marwan Hammouda stated that PRCS had secured coordination with IOF to transfer
those with serious injuries from al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city to the Rafah International
Crossing, so they could be treated in Egypt or abroad. He added that on his return, IOF
positioned on the coastal road detained the ambulance for two hours. Marwan
Hammouda sated that he drove to Jabalia after IOF had allowed the ambulance to
continue on its way. He was shot after he arrived in Jabalia.

• Case Study (2): ICRC calls upon IOF to respect International
Humanitarian Law (IHL)
During the IOF military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) accused Israel of failing to meet its obligation under international
humanitarian law, to protect sick and injured civilians. IOF had prevented medical
personnel and humanitarian staff from accessing the dead and injured. As a result, a
number of civilians had died of injuries before access had been possible.
According to a press release published by ICRC, on 7 January, four Palestinian Red
Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances, and representatives from the ICRC had managed
to secure access for the first time to several houses in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood of
Gaza City that had been severely affected by IOF shelling. The ICRC had requested safe
passage for ambulances to access this neighborhood since 3 January, but had only
received permission to do so on 7 January. The ICRC/PRCS team found four small
children in one house, who were crouched next to their dead mother and were too weak
to stand up alone. They also found one man, also too weak to stand, alive in the same
house. There were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses1.
In another house, as stated in ICRC press release, the ICRC/PRCS rescue team found 15
other survivors of IOF attacks, including several injured people. In another home, they
found an additional three corpses. Israeli soldiers posted at a military position some 80
meters away from this third house ordered the team to leave the area, which they refused
to do.
“This is a shocking incident,” said Pierre Wettach, ICRC Head of Delegation for Israel
and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, commenting on the case in al-Zaytoun. “The
Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded.
Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent Society to assist the
wounded.” Wettach added that, “Large earth walls erected by the Israeli army had made
it impossible to bring ambulances into the neighborhood. Therefore, the children and the
wounded had to be taken to the ambulances on a donkey cart. In total, the ICRC/PRCS
rescue team evacuated 18 wounded and 12 others who were extremely exhausted. Two
corpses were also evacuated. The ICRC/PRCS will recover the remaining corpses on
Thursday. The ICRC was informed that there are more wounded sheltering in other
destroyed houses in this neighborhood. It demands that the Israeli military grant it and
PRCS ambulances safe passage and access immediately to search for any other wounded.
Until now, the ICRC has still not received confirmation from the Israeli authorities that
this will be allowed. The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to
meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the
wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable. “
1 See http://www.icrc.org/

• Case study (3): aggravated suffering due to IOF denial of access
to medical personnel
Civilians are bearing the brunt of the continuing IOF military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The civilian population, especially those living in and around al-Zaytoun, al-Salatin and
al-‘Atatra districts, are being subjected to intense IOF military attacks whilst also being
denied water and electricity, and emergency healthcare. Dozens of persons, who have
been killed or injured in IOF attacks have not received the medical assistance they
urgently need. PCHR lawyers and field workers have collated accounts from dozens of
eyewitnesses and survivors, highlighting the violations that have taken place.
Nahil Abdullah Ibrahim al-Sammouni, 38, lives near al-Tawhid Mosque, west of Salah
Addin Street in al-Zaytoun district. She is married to Nafez Ahmed Mahmoud al-
Sammouni and has five daughters and three sons. She gave the following testimony to
PCHR:
“At approximately 05:00 on Sunday, 4 January, I was with my family in our house. We
were hiding in a room on the first floor as the Israelis were heavily firing, and also
shelling, as they moved into our area. Suddenly, there was a very strong explosion. The
house collapsed on top of us. IOF had fired a missile at our house. Thank to Allah, we all
safely managed to escape. We ran to the house of my husband’s cousin, Talal Hemi
Mahmoud al-Sammouni. The house is cement, and while we were there, I could see
Israeli soldiers in a neighboring house. A few hours later, the Israelis began to order
civilians to leave, including us. They told us to go to a house belonging to Wa’el al-
Sammouni. The house is just one storey and is not yet finished. We were about seven
families inside this house. The soldiers searched all the men and took their mobile phones
and ID cards. We stayed in that house for a full day. Early in the morning on Monday [5
January] the situation seemed calm. But we were all worried about my husband’s brother
who lives in a shelter nearby, between some trees. Some of the men tried to leave the
house so they could bring him to stay with us. But at about 09:00, the Israelis fired a
shell or a missile at us. Five of the people inside the house were wounded, and two of
them died afterwards. As we were trying to help them, another shell was fired at the
house. I felt sick and dizzy because of the dust and the smell from the explosion. My
children were screaming, and my husband was wounded in his leg. I took off my hijab
and covered my husband’s leg because he was bleeding heavily. A few moments later, the
men who were with us said we should try to leave the house. We were approximately 80
people altogether. We left the house holding our hands up and carrying white flags. We
were walking and asking the Israeli soldiers for mercy as they were in their tanks all
around us. We ran towards the street, and our neighbours also began to run towards the
street, crying. At that moment, I was looking for my children, but I did not see my son
Ahmed. I couldn’t go back to look for him, so I didn’t know what happened to him. I also
had to leave my injured husband in the house. An Israeli tank was firing on the ground
around us, while we were running to escape. People took us into their houses, so we
began to feel safe. Two days later, on 7 January, medical personnel could reach our area
and began to take the dead and the wounded. I went to al-Quds Hospital where my
husband and my son, Ahmed, were receiving medical treatment. Many members of our
family, and other families, have been killed and wounded. There are dead people in the
area that the medical people still couldn’t reach. The Israeli shelling was not justified.
There were no clashes. There was no need to target us and to target entire families of
civilians with many children, and women and elderly people. The attack took place while
the Israelis were completely controlling our area, which includes houses of the al-
Samouni family and other families and other houses.”

• Deterioration of health in the Gaza Strip
IOF continue to target medical institutions, increasing the deterioration of the health and
humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. This coincides with continuing severe shortages
of medicine consignments and supplies in Gaza Strip hospitals and medical centers.
Since the beginning of the IOF offensive, on 27 December 2008, IOF have continued to
deny patients from Gaza access to Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in order that they can be
transferred to hospitals in Israel or the West Bank. This has had a serious impact on
patients, especially those suffering from cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, as well as
patients suffering from diseases that can not be treated in hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
Prior to the current closure restrictions imposed by IOF, 30-50 approximately patients
from Gaza used to be referred to hospitals in Israel and the West Bank per day.
PCHR has documented IOF attacks against Palestinian medical personnel and medical
establishments in the Gaza Strip. This is a summery:
• At approximately 11:25, on 27 December 2008, IOF aircrafts bombarded the
VAT department (the ex-headquarters of the preventive security directorate) in
the Tal al-Hawa district of Gaza city. Many buildings in the department were
destroyed as a result. A nearby 13 storey building belong to the Palestinian Red
Crescent Society (PRCS) was also heavily damaged. Windows and doors in the
building were shattered. The building of the PRCS Directorate General of
Ambulances and Emergency Services was also heavily damaged. The nearby
PRCS buildings, including al-Quds Hospital, were also heavily damaged due to
repeated IOF bombardment of VAT department and the nearby Ministry of
Interior.
• At approximately 01:00, on 28 December 2008, IOF aircrafts bombarded the al-
Borno Mosque near the al-Shifa medical compound. The compound, which
includes the main hospital in the Gaza Strip, was heavily damaged. The main
building in the al-Shifa medical compound, which includes the reception and
emergency departments of the hospital, the surgical unit, the osteology
department, and the intensive care unit, were all damaged. The majority of
windows and doors in the building shattered. Also the administration building and
the radiology unit were severely affected by shattered glass.
• At approximately 02:00 on Tuesday, 30 December 2008, an IOF F-16 fired a
missile at the al-Farouq ‘Umar Mosque in Block 9 in al-Bureij refugee camp. The
Mosque was completely destroyed and heavy damage was caused to Sanabel al-
Aqsa kindergarten that stood on the ground floor in the targeted mosque. The
bombardment also completely destroyed the entire contents of the al-Bureij
governmental clinic.
• On 3 January 2009, IOF aircrafts bombarded the civil defense headquarters on
Bani Sheila- ‘Abasan main road east of Khan Yunis. The headquarters was
completely destroyed and heavy damage was been caused to neighboring houses.
• At approximately 01:00 on Monday, 5 January, an IOF F-16 fired a missile at the
Union of the Palestinian Healthcare Committees in al-Remal neighborhood in
Gaza City. The Union was completely destroyed. In addition, three mobile clinics
were also destroyed.
• On 7 January, an IOF aircraft bombarded the civil defense headquarters in Rafah.
One of the offices was completely destroyed. Heavy damage was caused to
neighboring houses. No casualties were reported.
• At approximately 8:30 on Saturday, 10 January, IOF aircrafts bombarded the
northern wall of the Gaza European Hospital, south east of Khan Younis. About
20 meters of the wall was destroyed. Damage was also caused to the main water
pipe and to the electricity network, the power generator and the fuel stocks.
Hospitals and medical centers across the Gaza Strip are suffering from severe shortage in
resources as medical apparatuses are not operating due to lack of spare parts. Sources
from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) stated that more than 200 pieces of
medical equipment need maintenance and spare parts that are not available in the Gaza
Strip due to the continuing IOF siege of Gaza. In addition, more than 105 medicine are
now completely out of stock, and approximately 225 medical supplies and tools remain
completely unavailable.

Conclusion
PCHR warns of IOF continuing escalation of attacks against Palestinian medical
personnel and their facilities, including ambulances and hospitals. The Centre condemns
the failure of IOF, at military and political levels, to open any serious investigations into
the violations that are being perpetrated against doctors, nurses and paramedics. This
indicates that the chain of command begins at very senior levels, with the intent of
targeting members of Palestinian medical personnel, in order to intimidate them, and
prevent them from carrying out their humanitarian duties. The number of victims among
the medical personnel, and the severe damage that has been caused to ambulances and
other medical facilities provide strong evidence that IOF are launching repeated attacks
on medical centers and facilities, and thus failing to comply with international
humanitarian law. PCHR calls for all humanitarian staff to be protected, including
medical personnel, and for them to be allowed to carry out their duties without fear of
being targeted, killed or injured.
PCHR condemns the conspiracy of silence of the international community as regards
crimes being committed by IOF against humanitarian staff, including international and
local ambulance drivers and volunteer escorts. The Centre also condemns the silence and
complicity of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, as regards
the violations, including war crimes, being committed by IOF against Palestinian
civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
PCHR demands that all High Contracting Parties work seriously towards ensuring respect
for the Convention, and that they intervene immediately and effectively in order to put an
end to the killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip. The Centre calls upon the international
community, especially the UN Security Council, to take immediate steps that may stop
the ongoing IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip, and put an end to IOF human rights
violations against the Palestinian civilian population. IOF violations amount to war
crimes.

Therefore, the Centre:
• Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva convention to apply
the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to ensure its respect, to
immediately activate articles 1, 2, 146 and 147 in order to ensure compliance of
the Occupying State to the rules of the Convention.
• Calls for immediate international protection for the Palestinian civilian population
in the Occupied Palestinian Territory against flagrant violations being committed
by IOF, especially amongst the civilian population, and to ensure the safety of
those who enjoy special protection, including medical personnel and humanitarian
staff.
• Calls upon the European Union (EU) to take urgent and prompt steps to halt its
cooperation with Israel, pursuant to Article 2 of the Convention on the European –
Israeli Association Agreement, which places conditionality on Israel’s respect for
the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law.
The European role is potentially effective as the European Union is the major
economic partner for the Government of Israel.
• Calls for urgent provision of humanitarian and medical aid to Gaza civilians, who
are suffering severe shortages, due to the continuing IOF siege of the Gaza Strip,
and attacks on Palestinian property.
• Calls upon the international community, especially the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) to seriously intervene in order to take the necessary steps to
ensure the provision of medical supplies, including consignments of medicine and
food, clothing and food supplements needed by children and pregnant women.
• Calls for the activation of the role of international organizations, especially the
role of the World Health Organization (WHO) to halt the severe violations being
perpetrated against Palestinian medical personnel, and to allow them to worksafely, in order to carry out their duties.

Who breached the latest ceasefire?

From Sabbah blog

US Media Misreport Latest Gaza Violence

By Carlos Latuff

Please phone and ask for correction!
[A FLYER about this can be downloaded at: www.IfAmericansKnew.org/download/gazacfv.pdf ]
American media are reporting violence that took place along the Gaza-Israel border on January 27th as, in the words of CNN, “the first incidents of violence since last week’s Mideast cease-fire,” telling the public that Palestinians broke the ceasefire. [1]
The reality, however, is that Israel had already violated the cease-fire at least 7 times, the Israeli military killing 2 Palestinian civilians and injuring at least 5, at least one of them a child:
* Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer in Khuza’a east of Khan Yunis on Jan 18* Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer east of Jabalia on Jan 19* Israeli naval gunboats shelled the Gaza coast line, causing damage to civilian structures on Jan 21* Israeli troops shot and injured a child east of Gaza City on Jan 22* Israeli gunboat fire injured 4-7 Palestinian fishermen on Jan 22* Israeli shelling set a Palestinian house on fire on Jan 22* Israeli tanks fired on the border town of Al Faraheen, causing damage to homes and farms on Jan 24
This list does not include two Palestinian children who were killed on January 20th by unexploded ordnance left from Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza.[2] (Additional details about the above cease-fire breaches and citations can be found in the timeline below.)
Media Contacts
Most of the media seem to have reported this wrong. You may check your local newspaper and contact it if it reported the story incorrectly.Below are some national contacts:
Associated Press
Read the AP article: http://tinyurl.com/dllqd6
Phone: 212-621-1500 (Ask for International Desk or for Corporate Communications)Fax: 212-621-7523General Questions and Comments: info@ap.org
The New York Times
Read the NYT article: http://tinyurl.com/ctscwj
Phone: 212-556-1234Fax: 212-556-3690Letters to the Editor (for publication): letters@nytimes.comWrite to the news editors: news-tips@nytimes.comCorrections: senioreditor@nytimes.com
Washington Post
Read the Washington Post article: http://tinyurl.com/ddgqs4
Phone: 202-334-6000Fax: 202-334-5269Letters to the Editor: letters@washpost.comOmbudsman: ombudsman@washpost.com
CNN
Read CNN’s article: http://tinyurl.com/cfnjzd
Phone: 404-827-1500Fax: 404-827-1784
NPR
NPR’s article: http://tinyurl.com/cquq33
Phone: 202-513-3232Fax: 202-513-3329E-mail: Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman – ombudsman@npr.org
McClatchey Newspapers
Read McClatchey’s article: http://tinyurl.com/affyp2
Main Phone: 916-321-1855
For more media contacts, go to http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=111
Timeline of Cease-fire Breaches & Important Events
Sunday, Jan 18 – After a 22-day assault on Gaza in which over 1,300 Palestinians were killed and approximately 9 Israelis were killed, Israel and Hamas each declared a ceasefire. Within several hours, the first breach took place, when Israel killed a Palestinian civilian:
The UN reports: “One Palestinian farmer was killed on the morning of 18 January in Khuza’a east of Khan Yunis following the Israeli-declared cease-fire.” [3]
Monday, Jan 19 – Once again the ceasefire was breached when Israel killed another Palestinian civilian. Palestinian militants did respond, but caused no damage or injuries:
The UN reports: “On 19 January, a Palestinian farmer was killed by Israeli gunfire east of Jabalia. The same day, Palestinian militants fired a number of mortars towards Israel and also shot at Israeli troops still inside the Gaza Strip. No injuries or damage were reported.” [4]
Wednesday, Jan 21 – Israeli naval boats fired at the Gaza coastline, causing some damage.
IMEMC reports: “On Wednesday, the boats fired shells at the coast line, causing damage but no injuries.” [5]
Thursday, Jan 22 – A Palestinian child was wounded by gunfire from Israeli troops, between 4 and 7 Palestinian civilians (fishermen) were injured when they were fired upon by Israel’s navy, and a home was set fire by shells from the Israeli navy:
The UN reports: “Four Palestinians were injured on 22 January by a shell fired from an Israeli gunboat off the Gaza coast. The same day, a house was set on fire by a shell fired from an Israeli gunboat. No injuries were reported. Also on 22 January, IDF troops shot and injured a child east of Gaza City near the border.” [6]
IMEMC reports: “On Thursday of last week, Israeli Navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen just off the shore of Gaza City, injuring seven civilians.” [7]
Saturday, Jan 24 – Israeli tanks fired on the border town of Al Faraheen, causing damage to homes and farms. Also, Aid agencies call on Israel to finally open all crossings into Gaza:
IMEMC reports: “On Saturday, the Israeli army opened fire at residents homes and farmlands located in Al Faraheen village located in the southern part of the Gaza strip. Local residents said that Israeli tanks stationed at the borders opened fire at their homes and farms; damage was reported but no injuries.” [8]
Maan News reports: “A coalition of international aid agencies urged the Israeli government on Saturday to open the Gaza Strip’s border to allow vital goods into the territory… The agencies, including Oxfam, Save the Children, and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) held a news conference on Saturday at the intensive care unit of Gaza’s Ash-Shifa Hospital to point up an ongoing humanitarian crisis stemming from Israel’s blockade.” [9]
Sunday, Jan 25 – Israeli F-16s flew over Gaza, causing schools, government offices, and banks to close and causing Egypt to rapidly evacuate all of its personnel from the Rafah crossing in fear that an attack was imminent.
Haaretz reports: “On Sunday Israeli F-16s flew over Gaza, terrifying people who thought Israel was launching a new offensive. A number of banks, government offices and schools were closed, occupants running to their homes as the Israeli warplanes flew overhead.” [10]
Maan News reports: “Egypt suddenly and rapidly evacuated its personnel from=0 Athe Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Sunday fearing a possible Israeli airstrike on the Palestinian side of the crossing, Egyptian security sources said.” [11]
Violence on January 27th
What appears to have happened today is that a remote device was detonated near or under an Israeli patrol near the Kissufim crossing between Gaza and Israel. It is not clear on which side of the border the attack took place. One soldier was killed and three were injured.
(The New York Times is reporting this as “the first serious confrontations between Hamas and Israel since each declared a tentative cease-fire 10 days ago.”[12] However, there is no indication that Hamas was responsible for the bomb and seems, despite all the Israeli violations, to be pushing for a cease-fire.)
The Israeli military then opened fire on the Palestinian farmland nearby, killing a civilian: a 27-year-old farmer was killed by tank fire.
Israel also closed the crossings into Gaza, denying the entire population (1.5 million) access to desperately needed shipments of food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid.
An Israeli drone fired a missile into the city of Khan Yunis, injuring a Hamas militant on a motorcycle. There are reports that 2 Palestinian children playing nearby were also injured.
It has also been reported that Israeli soldiers occupied a home near the town of Deir Al Balah.
[A FLYER about this can be downloaded at: www.IfAmericansKnew.org/download/gazacfv.pdf ]

1. CNN: http://tinyurl.com/c5kpnf
2. UN OCHA: http://tinyurl.com/cmp3gm (PDF)
3. UN OCHA: http://tinyurl.com/craare (PDF)
4. UN OCHA: http://tinyurl.com/cs2sbj
5. IMEMC: http://imemc.org/article/58644
6. UN OCHA: http://tinyurl.com/cmp3gm (PDF)
7. IMEMC: http://imemc.org/article/58644
8. IMEMC: http://imemc.org/article/58613
9. Maan News: http://tinyurl.com/cbzjhn
10. Haaretz: http://tinyurl.com/amcmr7
11. Maan News: http://tinyurl.com/arxsv4
12. The New York Times: http://tinyurl.com/ctscwj
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