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December Gaza 2008

Focus
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Ontario man’s Gaza trip an extended nightmare, he is trapped in†Gaza

Nehad Al-Hajsale, the London, Ont. man who has been trapped in Gaza since early November, is seen with his daughter in this undated family handout photo.

Nehad Al-Hajsale, the London, Ont. man who has been trapped in Gaza since early November, is seen with his daughter in this undated family handout photo.

Dalia Salim, the wife of Nehad Al-Hajsale, who has been trapped in Gaza since early November, appears on CTV's Canada AM from 'A' studios in London, Ont., Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008.

Dalia Salim, the wife of Nehad Al-Hajsale, who has been trapped in Gaza since early November, appears on CTV’s Canada AM from ‘A’ studios in London, Ont., Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008.

Nehad Al-Hajsale, the London, Ont. man who has been trapped in Gaza since early November, is seen with his wife, Dalia Salim, and their daughter in this undated family handout photo.

Nehad Al-Hajsale, the London, Ont. man who has been trapped in Gaza since early November, is seen with his wife, Dalia Salim, and their daughter in this undated family handout photo.


Ontario man’s Gaza trip an extended nightmare

December 31 2008

A London, Ont. man’s trip to the Gaza Strip to visit his ailing father has turned into an extended nightmare.

Nehad Al-Hajsalem has been trapped in Gaza since early November, and his family is growing increasingly desperate to bring him home safely.

An Israeli aerial bombing campaign on Gaza is now in its fifth day, with close to 400 people killed in the attacks.

Al-Hajsalem’s wife, Dalia Salim, told CTV’s Canada AM she worries for her husband’s safety, saying just getting through by phone is a challenge.

“It’s quite hard,” Salim said. “You have to call at least 10 times for the phone to pick up. But I do talk to him and it’s pretty scary. I can hear all the bombs, I can hear emergency sirens going by, I can hear helicopters, the loud zooming sound of them. It’s all so frightening.”

Al-Hajsalem, a permanent resident of Canada, travelled to Gaza when he learned the border with Egypt would be opened for several days in early November.

He had planned to visit his father who was dying from liver cancer, then return to Canada.

Al-Hajsalem’s father died on Nov. 23, but the Gaza border has once again been closed and Al-Hajsalem hasn’t been allowed to leave the territory.

Salim said her husband’s status as a permanent resident means Foreign Affairs can do little to help him.

Her final hope — of securing passage for Al-Hajsalem aboard an aid ship making trips from Cyprus to Gaza — fell apart yesterday.

The ship, which had made several recent trips to Gaza, had agreed to take Al-Hajsalem as a passenger back to Cyprus.

However, the ship wasn’t allowed to land in Gaza.

“That was basically our last hope, but that boat never made it to Gaza. Israeli navy ships hit it from the side and made it go back to Lebanon, so basically my only hope is gone,” Salim said.

According to a report from The Associated Press, the SS Dignity, a ship carrying international peace activists and medical supplies, was damaged by the Israeli navy Tuesday, and forced to head to Lebanon.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the ship ignored an Israeli radio order to turn back as it approached Gaza early Tuesday.

According to Palmor, the vessel tried to outmaneuver the Israeli navy ship and crashed into it, lightly damaging both vessels, before the Dignity was turned back.

Crew and passengers aboard the ship dispute the account, however, claiming it was rammed by the navy ship.

The ship was carrying close to four tons of medical supplies organized by Free Gaza, a group that has made five aid trips to Gaza, despite a blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza.

Source

‘The USS Liberty’: America’s Most Shameful Secret
by Eric S. Margolis

May 2, 2001

NEW YORK – On the fourth day of the 1967 Arab Israeli War, the intelligence ship ‘USS Liberty’ was steaming slowly in international waters, 14 miles off the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli armored forces were racing deep into Sinai in hot pursuit of the retreating Egyptian army.

‘Liberty,’ a World War II freighter, had been converted into an intelligence vessel by the top-secret US National Security Agency, and packed with the latest signals and electronic interception equipment. The ship bristled with antennas and electronic ‘ears’ including TRSSCOMM, a system that delivered real-time intercepts to Washington by bouncing a stream of microwaves off the moon.

‘Liberty’ had been rushed to Sinai to monitor communications of the belligerents in the Third Arab Israeli War: Israel and her foes, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

At 0800 hrs, 8 June, 1967, eight Israeli recon flights flew over ‘Liberty,’ which was flying a large American flag. At 1400 hrs, waves of low-flying Israeli Mystere and Mirage-III fighter-bombers repeatedly attacked the American vessel with rockets, napalm, and cannon. The air attacks lasted 20 minutes, concentrating on the ship’s electronic antennas and dishes. The ‘Liberty’ was left afire, listing sharply. Eight of her crew lay dead, a hundred seriously wounded, including the captain, Commander William McGonagle.

At 1424 hrs, three Israeli torpedo boats attacked, raking the burning ‘Liberty’ with 20mm and 40mm shells. At 1431hrs an Israeli torpedo hit the ‘Liberty’ midship, precisely where the signals intelligence systems were located. Twenty-five more Americans died.

Israeli gunboats circled the wounded ‘Liberty,’ firing at crewmen trying to fight the fires. At 1515, the crew were ordered to abandon ship. The Israeli warships closed and poured machine gun fire into the crowded life rafts, sinking two. As American sailors were being massacred in cold blood, a rescue mission by US Sixth Fleet carrier aircraft was mysteriously aborted on orders from the White House.

An hour after the attack, Israeli warships and planes returned. Commander McGonagle gave the order. ‘prepare to repel borders.’ But the Israelis, probably fearful of intervention by the US Sixth Fleet, departed. ‘Liberty’ was left shattered but still defiant, her flag flying.

The Israeli attacks killed 34 US seamen and wounded 171 out of a crew of 297, the worst loss of American naval personnel from hostile action since World War II.

Less than an hour after the attack, Israel told Washington its forces had committed a ‘tragic error.’ Later, Israel claimed it had mistaken ‘Liberty’ for an ancient Egyptian horse transport. US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and Joint Chiefs of Staff head, Admiral Thomas Moorer, insisted the Israeli attack was deliberate and designed to sink ‘Liberty.’ So did three CIA reports; one asserted Israel’s Defense Minister, Gen. Moshe Dayan, had personally ordered the attack.

In contrast to American outrage over North Korea’s assault on the intelligence ship ‘Pueblo,’ Iraq’s mistaken missile strike on the USS ‘Stark,’ last fall’s bombing of the USS ‘Cole’ in Aden, and the recent US-China air incident, the savaging of ‘Liberty’ was quickly hushed up by President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

The White House and Congress immediately accepted Israel’s explanation and let the matter drop. Israel later paid a token reparation of US $6 million. There were reports two Israeli pilots who had refused to attack ‘Liberty’ were jailed for 18 years.

Surviving ‘Liberty’ crew members would not be silenced. They kept demanding an open inquiry and tried to tell their story of deliberate attack to the media. Israel’s government worked behind the scenes to thwart these efforts, going so far as having American pro-Israel groups accuse ‘Liberty’s’ survivors of being ‘anti-Semites’ and ‘Israel-haters.’ Major TV networks cancelled interviews with the crew. A book about the ‘Liberty’ by crewman James Ennes’ was dropped from distribution. The Israel lobby branded him ‘an Arab propagandist.’

The attack on ‘Liberty’ was fading into obscurity until last week, when intelligence expert James Bamford came out with Body of Secrets, his latest book about the National Security Agency. In a stunning revelation, Bamford writes that unknown to Israel, a US Navy EC-121 intelligence aircraft was flying high overhead the ‘Liberty,’ electronically recorded the attack. The US aircraft crew provides evidence that the Israeli pilots knew full well that they were attacking a US Navy ship flying the American flag.

Why did Israel try to sink a naval vessel of its benefactor and ally? Most likely because ‘Liberty’s’ intercepts flatly contradicted Israel’s claim, made at the war’s beginning on 5 June, that Egypt had attacked Israel, and that Israel’s massive air assault on three Arab nations was in retaliation. In fact, Israel began the war by a devastating, Pearl-Harbor style surprise attack that caught the Arabs in bed and destroyed their entire air forces.

Israel was also preparing to attack Syria to seize its strategic Golan Heights. Washington warned Israel not to invade Syria, which had remained inactive while Israel fought Egypt. Bamford says Israel’s offensive against Syria was abruptly postponed when ‘Liberty’ appeared off Sinai, then launched once it was knocked out of action. Israel’s claim that Syria had attacked it could have been disproved by ‘Liberty.’

Most significant, ‘Liberty’s’ intercepts may have shown that Israel seized upon sharply rising Arab-Israeli tensions in May-June 1967 to launch a long-planned war to invade and annex the West Bank, Jerusalem, Golan and Sinai.

Far more shocking was Washington’s response. Writes Bamford: ‘Despite the overwhelming evidence that Israel attacked the ship and killed American servicemen deliberately, the Johnson Administration and Congress covered up the entire incident.’ Why?

Domestic politics. Johnson, a man never noted for high moral values, preferred to cover up the attack rather than anger a key constituency and major financial backer of the Democratic Party. Congress was even less eager to touch this ‘third rail’ issue.

Commander McGonagle was quietly awarded the Medal of Honor for his and his men’s heroism – not in the White House, as is usual, but in an obscure ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard. Crew member’s graves were inscribed, ‘died in the Eastern Mediterranean..’ as if they had be killed by disease, rather than hostile action.

A member of President Johnson’s staff believed there was a more complex reason for the cover-up: Johnson offered Jewish liberals unconditional backing of Israel, and a cover-up of the ‘Liberty’ attack, in exchange for the liberal toning down their strident criticism of his policies in the then raging Vietnam War.

Israel, which claims it fought a war of self defense in 1967 and had no prior territorial ambitions, will be much displeased by Bamford’s revelations. Those who believe Israel illegally occupies the West Bank and Golan will be emboldened.

Much more important, the US government’s long, disgraceful cover-up of the premeditated attack on ‘Liberty’ has now burst into the open and demands full-scale investigation. After 34 years, the voices of ‘Liberty’s’ dead and wounded seamen must finally be heard.

Source

First List Releast Of Palestinian Victims In “Cast Lead Massacre”
December 31 2008

By Hiyam Noir

GAZA - On Wednesday the Palestinian Health Ministry released a list of 187 Palestinians killed during the first two days of the Israelis Cast Lead Massacre across Gaza Strip

The director of the Health Ministry’s Public Relations department in Gaza,Dr Omar Nasr, reveal that the death toll through out Wednesday after noon,have exceeded 390 including 31 children,the health ministry are collecting all the names of the slain and the many wounded.

In the coming days details of how many civilians were killed and injured ,will be presented to international humanitarian organizations,these files are evidence when judical legal proceedings will begin against the Israelis.

The following list identified the first 187 victims of the Israeli onslaught as:

Ibrahim Al-Jamaj
Isma’il Al-Husari
Isma’il Salem
Isma’il Ghneim
Eyman Natour
Eyhab Ash-Shaer
Ibrahim Mahfoudh
Abu Ali Ar-Rahhal
Ahmad Al-Halabi
Ahmad Al-Kurd
Ahmad Al-Lahham
Ahmad Al-Hums
Ahmad At-Talouli
Ahmad Zu’rub
Ahmad Abu Jazar
Ahmad Radwan
Ahmad ‘Udah
Ahmad Abu Mousa
Ahmad Tbeil
Adham Al-Areini
Osama Abu Ar-Rus
Osama Abu Ar-Reish
Osama Darweish
Ashraf Ash-Sharabasi
Ashraf Abu Suhweil
Amjad Abu Jazar
Ameen Az-Zarbatli
Anas Hamad
Anwar Al-Bardini
Anwar Al-Kurd
Ayman Abu Ammouna
Ayman An-Nahhal
Ibrahim Abu Ar-Rus
Basil Dababish
Bassam Makkawi
Bilal Omar
Bahaa Abu Zuhri
Tamir Qreinawi
Tamir Abu Afsha
Tawfiq Al-Fallit
Tawfiq Jabir
Thaer Madi
Jabir Jarbu’
Hatim Abu Sha’ira
Hamid Yasin
Husam Ayyash
Hasan Baraka
Hasan Abid Rabbo
Hasan Al-Majayda
Hussein Al-A’raj
Hussein Dawood
Hussein ‘Uroq
Hakam Abu Mansi
Hamada Abu Duqqa
Hamada Safi
Hamdan Abu Nu’eira
Haydar Hassuna
Khalid Zu’rub
Khalid Abu Hasna
Khalid An-Nashasi
Khalid Shaheen
Raed Dughmush
Rami Ash-Sheikh
Raafat Shamiyya
Riziq Salman
Rif’at Sa’da
Rafiq Na’im
Ramzi Al-Haddad
Ziyad Abu ‘Ubada
Sarah Al-Hawajiri
Salim Abu Shamla
Salim Qreinawi
Sa’id Hamada
Salim Al-Gharir
Suheil Tambura
Shadi Sbakhi
Shahada Quffa
Shahada Abd ar-Rahman
Sabir Al-Mabhouh
Suhayb Abu ‘Iffat
Suhayb Abd al-‘aal
Tal’at Salman
Tal’at Basal
‘Aasim Ash-Shaer
‘Aasim Abu Kamil
Abid Ad-Dahshan
Abd ar-Raziq Shahtu
Abd as-Sami’ An-Nashar
Abdul-Fattah Abu ‘Uteiwi
Abdul-Fattah Fadil
Abdullah Juneid
Abdullah Al-Ghafari
Abdullah Rantisi
Abdullah Wahbi
Arafat Farajallah
Azmi Abu Dalal
Isam Al-Ghirbawi
‘Alaa Al-Qatrawi
‘Alaa Al-Kahlout
‘Alaa ‘Uqeilan
‘Alaa Nasr Ar-Ra’i
Ali Awad
Imab Abu Al-Hajj
Omar Darawsha
Omran Ar-ran
Anan Ghaliya
Gharib Al-Assar
Fayiz Riyad Al-Madhoun
Fayiz Ayada Al-Madhoun
Fayiz Abu Al-Qumsan
Camellia Al-Bardini
Ma’moun Sleim
Mazin ‘Ulayyan
Muhammad Al-Ghimri
Muhammad Al-Halabi
Muhammad Asaliyya
Muhammad Az-Zatma
Muhammad Az-ahra
Muhammad Gaza
Muhammad An-Nuri
Muhammad Abu Sabra
Muhammad Abu ‘Amir
Muhammad Abu Libda
Muhammad Hboush
Muhammad Al-Mabhouh
Muhammad Sha’ban
Muhammad Abu ‘Abdo
Muhammad Salih
Muhammad Tabasha
Muhammad Al-Habeil
Muhammad Abdullah Aziz
Muhammad Abdul-Wahhab Aziz
Muhammad Awad
Muhammad Abd An-Nabi
Muhammad Salih
Muhammad An-Najari
Muhammad Hamad
Muhammad Barakat
Muhammad Muhanna
Mahmoud Al-Khalidi
Mahmoud Abu Harbeid
Mahmoud Abu Matar
Mahmoud Abu Tabour
Mahmoud Abu Nahla
Mustafa Al-Khateib
Mustafa As-Sabbak
Mu’ein Hamada
Mu’ein Al-Hasan
Mumtaz An- Najjar
Mansour Al-Gharra
Nasser Al-Gharra
Nahidh Abu Namous
Nabil Al-Breim
Nathir Al-Louqa
Ni’ma Al-Maghari
Na’im Kheit
Na’im Al-Kafarna
Na’im Al-Anzi
Nimir Amoum
Hisham Rantisi
Hisham Al-Masdar
Hisham Abu ‘Uda
Hisham ‘Uweida
Humam An-Najjar
Hanaa Al-Mabhouh
Haytham Hamdan
Haytham Ash-Sher
Wadei’ Al-Muzayyin
Wasim Azaza
Walid Abu Hein
Walid Jabir Abu Hein
Yasser Ash-Shaer
Yasser Al-Lahham
Yahya Al-Hayik
Yahya Sheikha
Yahya Mahmoud Sheikha
Yousif Thabit
Yousif Al-Jallad
Yousif Sha’ban
Yousif Diab
Yousif Al-Anani
Yousif An-Najjar
Younis Ad-Deiri

Source

Palestinian History, A Chronology

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat headed to†Gaza

The crew of the vessel SS Dignity along with journalists, raise their hands before a press conference at the Lebanese journalist syndicate in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. (AP / Mahmoud Tawil)

The crew of the vessel SS Dignity along with journalists, raise their hands before a press conference at the Lebanese journalist syndicate in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. (AP / Mahmoud Tawil)

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat headed to Gaza
December 30 2008

BEIRUT, Lebanon
A boat carrying international peace activists and medical supplies to the embattled Gaza Strip was turned back and damaged by the Israeli navy on Tuesday, Israel and organizers of the trip said.

The vessel, called SS Dignity, was greeted by a small cheering crowd as it pulled into the southern Lebanese port of Tyre with clear marks of damage near the prow. Its foiled aid trip came as Israel was waging a major bombardment of Gaza on that has killed more than 360 people since Saturday, aiming to halt Hamas rocket attacks into Israel.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said an Israeli navy ship intercepted the boat, which he said ignored an Israeli radio order to turn back as it approached Gaza early Tuesday.

Palmor saids the boat tried to outmaneuver an Israeli navy ship and crashed into it, lightly damaging both vessels. The navy then escorted the boat out into the territorial waters of Cyprus.

But passengers and crew aboard the SS Dignity disputed the Israeli account, saying the Israeli vessel rammed the ship.

“We were prevented from entering Gaza … by Israeli patrol boats that tracked us for about 30 minutes. They shone their spotlight on us and then all of a sudden they rammed us approximately three times, twice in the front and once in the side,” said former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney who was aboard the boat.

“Communications from the Israelis indicated that we were involved in terrorist activities … I presume that’s why they rammed our boat,” she added.

The boat’s British captain, Denis Healey, said the Israeli action came “without any warning, or any provocation.” Organizers said the boat was in international waters†– 90 miles off the coast of Gaza –when the Israeli navy intercepted it.

The 66-foot (20-meter) yacht Dignity set off from Cyprus on Monday with almost 4 tons of Cypriot-donated medical supplies, including surgical equipment and antibiotics, as well as 16 passengers from the U.S., Cyprus, Britain, Australia, Ireland and elsehwhere, organizers said.

The trip was organized by the Free Gaza group, which has made five deliveries of aid by boat to Gaza since August, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when Hamas won control of the territory in June 2007.

Source

Leaders Lie, Civilians Die, and Lessons of History are Ignored

By Robert Fisk

December 29 2008

We’ve got so used to the carnage of the Middle East that we don’t care any more – providing we don’t offend the Israelis. It’s not clear how many of the Gaza dead are civilians, but the response of the Bush administration, not to mention the pusillanimous reaction of Gordon Brown, reaffirm for Arabs what they have known for decades: however they struggle against their antagonists, the West will take Israel’s side. As usual, the bloodbath was the fault of the Arabs – who, as we all know, only understand force.

Ever since 1948, we’ve been hearing this balderdash from the Israelis – just as Arab nationalists and then Arab Islamists have been peddling their own lies: that the Zionist “death wagon” will be overthrown, that all Jerusalem will be “liberated”. And always Mr Bush Snr or Mr Clinton or Mr Bush Jnr or Mr Blair or Mr Brown have called upon both sides to exercise “restraint” – as if the Palestinians and the Israelis both have F-18s and Merkava tanks and field artillery.

Hamas’s home-made rockets have killed just 20 Israelis in eight years, but a day-long blitz by Israeli aircraft that kills almost 300 Palestinians is just par for the course.

The blood-splattering has its own routine. Yes, Hamas provoked Israel’s anger, just as Israel provoked Hamas’s anger, which was provoked by Israel, which was provoked by Hamas, which … See what I mean? Hamas fires rockets at Israel, Israel bombs Hamas, Hamas fires more rockets and Israel bombs again and … Got it? And we demand security for Israel – rightly – but overlook this massive and utterly disproportionate slaughter by Israel. It was Madeleine Albright who once said that Israel was “under siege” – as if Palestinian tanks were in the streets of Tel Aviv.

By last night, the exchange rate stood at 296 Palestinians dead for one dead Israeli.

Back in 2006, it was 10 Lebanese dead for one Israeli dead. This weekend was the most inflationary exchange rate in a single day since – the 1973 Middle East War? The 1967 Six Day War? The 1956 Suez War? The 1948 Independence/Nakba War? It’s obscene, a gruesome game – which Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, unconsciously admitted when he spoke this weekend to Fox TV. “Our intention is to totally change the rules of the game,” Barak said.

Exactly. Only the “rules” of the game don’t change. This is a further slippage on the Arab-Israeli exchanges, a percentage slide more awesome than Wall Street’s crashing shares, though of not much interest in the US which – let us remember – made the F-18s and the Hellfire missiles which the Bush administration pleads with Israel to use sparingly.

Quite a lot of the dead this weekend appear to have been Hamas members, but what is it supposed to solve? Is Hamas going to say: “Wow, this blitz is awesome – we’d better recognise the state of Israel, fall in line with the Palestinian Authority, lay down our weapons and pray we are taken prisoner and locked up indefinitely and support a new American ‘peace process’ in the Middle East!” Is that what the Israelis and the Americans and Gordon Brown think Hamas is going to do?

Yes, let’s remember Hamas’s cynicism, the cynicism of all armed Islamist groups. Their need for Muslim martyrs is as crucial to them as Israel’s need to create them. The lesson Israel thinks it is teaching – come to heel or we will crush you – is not the lesson Hamas is learning. Hamas needs violence to emphasise the oppression of the Palestinians – and relies on Israel to provide it. A few rockets into Israel and Israel obliges.

Not a whimper from Tony Blair, the peace envoy to the Middle East who’s never been to Gaza in his current incarnation. Not a bloody word.

We hear the usual Israeli line. General Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the Israeli army’s “research and assessment division” announced that “no country in the world would allow its citizens to be made the target of rocket attacks without taking vigorous steps to defend them”. Quite so. But when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, when their guerrillas were crossing from the Republic to attack police stations and Protestants, did Britain unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic? Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn’t want to lower ourselves to the IRA’s level.

Yes, Israel deserves security. But these bloodbaths will not bring it. Not since 1948 have air raids protected Israel. Israel has bombed Lebanon thousands of times since 1975 and not one has eliminated “terrorism”. So what was the reaction last night? The Israelis threaten ground attacks. Hamas waits for another battle. Our Western politicians crouch in their funk holes. And somewhere to the east – in a cave? a basement? on a mountainside? – a well-known man in a turban smiles.

Source

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel†Resolution

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

December 28, 2008

The UN Security Council has been unable to force an end to Israeli attacks against Gaza due to the intervention of the United States.

Washington once again used its veto powers on Sunday to block a resolution calling for an end to the massive ongoing Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip. The council has only been able to issue a ‘non-binding’ statement that calls on Israel to voluntarily bring all its military activities in the besieged region to an immediate end.

The statement comes as Israel has begun a fresh wave of air strikes on Gaza on Sunday, killing at least six people.† At least 230 people were killed and 800 wounded in similar attacks on Saturday.† The number of Palestinians deaths has so far risen to 271.

The council called on the parties to address the humanitarian crisis in the territory but has not criticized the Israeli air attacks. Croatian UN Ambassador Neven Jurica read out the non-binding statement on behalf of the 15-member body that “called for an immediate halt to all violence” and on the parties “to stop immediately all military activities.” “The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza,” he said, as the president of the council.

The council also requested the opening of border crossings into Gaza to address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza and to ensure medical treatment and a continuous supply of food and fuel.

US representative to the UNSC, Zalmay Khalilzad, defended the Israeli move, saying Tel Aviv has the right to self-defense. “I regret the loss of any of all innocent life,” he said, adding that Hamas rockets precipitated this situation.

Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip say they fire rockets into Israel in retaliation for the daily Israeli attacks against them. Unlike the state-of-the-art Israeli weapons and ammunition, the home-made Qassam rockets rarely cause casualties.

The US, a staunch ally to Israel, has so far vetoed over 40 anti-Israeli resolutions sought by the council since 1972.

Since 2004, Washington has prevented the adoption of four other resolutions that called for Tel Aviv to halt its operations in the Gaza Strip.

Source

Seems the US is just as responsible for the deaths of the† Palestinians as is Israel. The US is preventing peace. They are just a guilty as Israel.

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza†Strip

Hiyam Noir reports from the war zone in Gaza. We thank her and her colleague, photographer Fady Adwan, for risking their lives to report the truth from Gaza.

photo by†Fady Adwan, December 27, 2008

photo by Fady Adwan, December 27, 2008

December 27 2008

GAZA
On Saturday noon in the first wave of air strikes, the Israelis targeted Gaza City government buildings. Casualties are confirmed and include the Commander of Gaza Police Force Tawfiq Jabir, the Commander of Security and Protection Services in Gaza police, Ismail Al-Ja’bari and the Governor of the Al-Wusta (central) Districts Ahmad Abu Aashur. Islam Shahwan, a Hamas police spokesman, said that the Israeli attacks have destroyed most of the Gaza Strip police headquarters and that a police graduation ceremony was being held during the Israeli assault.

Following the first wave of Israeli air strikes, that killed at least 156 and injured over 200 Palestinians (Ed. note: updated numbers since Hiyam wrote this, reported†in some western media: at least†200 dead and 300 injured - end note), Palestinian medical sources said in a press statement during Saturday afternoon that at least 80 of the wounded has arrived to hospital in “bits and parts” and the Head of the Gaza Emergency and ambulance department in the Ministry of Health, Mu’awieyah Hasaneen confirm that medical crews and rescue workers are still pulling dozens of people from underneath rubble. Hasaneen have pledged to all Arab governments, to send medications and operating supplies to Gaza, saying most of the injured were too badly injured to be moved outside the Gaza Strip. Hospital corridors are filled with bodies and gourneys, and in the local morgues there is no space to for all the bodies.

Leaders and citizens of Arab countries condemned Israeli air strike on Saturday. A few minutes after the first 30 Israeli air strikes at noon on Saturday, an Egyptian official said that the Israeli missile attacks was “an unprecedented massacre.” Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president condemned the attacks, demanded that the ceasefire between the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the Israeli army to be renewed. “Egypt will forge ahead with its contacts to create a favorable atmosphere in renewing the truce and attaining inter-Palestinian reconciliation in a bid to end the suffering of the Palestinian people”, a statement from the Mubarak’s office said.

Fouad Seniora, the Lebanese prime minister called the Israeli operations “tragic and criminal”. A statement from the Seniora’s office “strongly denounces and rejects the criminal operation in the Gaza Strip.” The Lebanese prime minister called on the Arab League and other heads of state to immediately convene in an emergency session to adopt a “united Arab stand to face the Israeli aggression.” Seniora also called upon United Nations security council to adopt “deterring and necessary measures against Israel for its continuous violations of Palestinian and Arab human rights”.

The Gaza operation plan was architectured on Wednesday. Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert ordered the air strikes on Gaza, Saturday morning, the assaults on Gaza Strip are intended to last throughout Saturday and perhaps into Sunday. The two Zionist leaders asserted that Israel has prepared for an operation that could take several weeks. Preparations have also been taken to contain any expected response in the West Bank. Ehud Barak and his chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, are supervising the air strikes, which they say - will “continue until the Israel has achieved its goals”. Israeli sources asserted that the operation does not aim to topple Hamas, but “we will stop homemade projectiles,” the statement said, warning for ” tougher images” in the Gaza Strip in the coming days.

A member of the executive committee in the PLO Taysir Khaled, accused Israel of using weapons in Gaza that are banned internationally and condemned the Israeli attack. He called for immediate intervention to stop the Israelis military actions, which he said have been in performance for months. In Jenin Al-Aqsa Brigades ( Fatah) said in a statement that their fighters are in a state of high alert and “would not be handcuffed,” and would retaliate “in the right place at the right time.”

The Al-Quds Brigades ( Islamic Jihad) asserted that they are in high alert and that the Israelis will pay a severe toll for their heavy handed attacks. The Islamic Jihad leader, Khaled Al-Batsh, said that the Israeli attack is a declaration to “open war” against the Palestinian people, intended “to repress the Palestinian resistance.” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum asked the Palestinian people to “remain patient in the light of Israeli crimes ” - he called for a massive response to the Israelis air strikes that have killed at least 200 Gaza residents, and wounded over 200. Barhoum stated that there will be a renewal of Palestinian operations within Israel.

Source

Iran preps humanitarian aid ship to Gaza†Strip

December 27 2008

An Iranian freighter carrying tons of humanitarian equipment destined for the Gaza Strip will set sail from the Islamic Republic on Saturday, Iranian media reported on Friday.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society organized the shipment which it says will reach the Gaza shoreline in defiance of the Israeli military blockade imposed on the territory since Hamas’ ascendancy to power.

“The ship will carry medicine and foodstuffs including rice, flour, sugar as well as six tons of medicine for the impoverished population of Gaza,” said Hamed Taheri Jebelli, a spokesman for Iran’s Red Crescent Society on Thursday.

“Despite the Zionist regime’s opposition … this consignment will leave Bandar Abbas for Palestine on Saturday and will arrive in 12 days,” a provincial Red Crescent director, Ahmad Navvab, was quoted as telling the French news agency AFP.

“The cargo contains over 2,000 tons of food, medicine and appliances and it will be accompanied by 12 Iranian doctors and relief workers,” he told AFP.

Earlier this month, the Red Crescent said it aimed to send a 1,000-ton shipment of grain, sugar, oil and medicine to the aid-dependent land.

Source

Israeli teenagers jailed for refusing to serve in†army

Israeli teenagers jailed for refusing to serve in army
December 18 2008

Peace activists in Israel and around the world are participating on Wednesday in a day of action to call on Israeli authorities to release teenagers imprisoned for refusing to serve in the army for reasons of conscience.

Tamar Katz, Raz Bar-David Varon and Yuval Oron-Ofir are three conscientious objectors who are all serving their third prison sentences. At least six other teenagers – male and female – have been jailed in recent months for refusing to enlist and at least two more, both young women, are at risk of imminent imprisonment.

Their refusal stems from their opposition to the Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and to the practices of the Israeli army there. They believe that by enlisting they would participate in committing human rights abuses in which they want no part.

Amnesty International has added its voice to the campaign. The organization considers these teenagers to be prisoners of conscience and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

Tamar Katz, aged 19, has already spent 50 days in jail and is serving her third prison sentence. In her declaration of refusal she stated:

“I am not willing to become part of an occupying army… I am not willing to become one of those holding the gun pointed indiscriminately at Palestinian civilians, and I do not believe that such actions could bring any change except ever more antagonism and violence in our region.”

She has been held in isolation and deprived of family visits as punishment for refusing to wear a military uniform in prison.

Eighteen-year-old Raz Bar-David Varon, also serving her third prison term, said on the day of her arrest:

“I have witnessed this army demolishing, shooting and humiliating people whom I did not know… It hurts me when people, Palestinians, are being so brutally assaulted, and it hurts me when they later turn their hatred towards me because of it. I wasn’t born to serve as a soldier who occupies another… My responsibility is to refuse.”

Yuval Oron-Ofir was jailed for the third time on 14 December. The 19-year-old explained his reasons for refusing to enlist:

“There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding… of peace. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.”

Teenagers who refuse to enlist because they do not want to find themselves in a situation where they may contribute to or participate in committing human rights abuses are generally sent to jail for months.

There is no civilian service alternative to military draft in Israel and, although a “conscience committee” exists within the Israeli army, exemption is only usually granted to those who refuse to serve on religious grounds. Those who make it known that they are unwilling to enlist on grounds of conscience – because they are pacifist or oppose the army’s practices in the OPT – are routinely imprisoned.

At the same time, Israeli soldiers who commit grave human rights violations, including war crimes, such as unlawful killings of unarmed civilians, reckless shelling of densely populated residential areas or wanton destruction of homes, are routinely granted impunity.

“Such a policy sends the wrong message to Israeli society and to young people in particular,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “All conscientious objectors should be given the opportunity to present the grounds of their objection to a decision-making body which is impartial and independent.

“Amnesty International calls on the Israeli authorities to ensure that such a body is established, and in the meantime to immediately and unconditionally release the conscientious objectors currently detained and not to imprison others.”

Source

Americans support conscientious objectors to IDF military service by sending 20,000 letters to Barak

By Natasha Mozgovaya
December 21 2008

WASHINGTON
Conscientious objectors who refused to serve in the Israel Defense Forces received an unprecedented shot in the arm from North American Jewry yesterday, when demonstrators protested against their detention by presenting 20,000 letters from Diaspora Jews demanding their release.

Dozens of activists tried to deliver the letters to Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a demonstration outside his office in Tel Aviv.
Many letters came from a Web site called Jewish Voice for Peace, which features a video in which the objectors explain in English why they refused to enlist.

Although most American Jews are politically aligned with the liberal left, IDF service is generally viewed as an unassailable duty. Thus, there has never been a concentrated effort to lobby Israelis to evade conscription.

The Jewish Voice for Peace has recruited actor Ed Asner, historian and author Howard Zinn, and folk singer Ronnie Gilbert to the cause.

“The recent election of anti-war candidate Barack Obama, who by the way received some 80% of the Jewish vote, was evidence of the American people’s disenchantment with war and occupation,” said Cecilie Surasky, the communications director for Jewish Voice for Peace. “Seven years and untold lives and dollars later, there is almost total agreement in the U.S. that our venture in Iraq has been an unqualified disaster.”

Gilbert called on Israel to change its policies.

“I am an old-time peace activist,” he said. “I have marched and pleaded against the cruel occupation for years. The presence of the Shministim [the Hebrew term for Israeli youths who refuse enlistment] makes me ashamed of sometimes feeling that Israel will never change. You are the change.”

Zinn, a scholar who is no stranger to controversy, called the objectors courageous for their actions.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about courage,” Zinn wrote in his letter. “Right now, while I’m snug and fed this Thanksgiving holiday in the comfort of my home, halfway around the world a group of teenagers is sitting in a jail cell today, demonstrating the very definition of courage and sacrifice. It’s frustrating. Humbling. And I’m damn glad to have the chance to do something big about it.”

Surasky said she was not concerned that the campaign would be viewed as interference in internal Israeli affairs.

“For years, money from Jewish American organizations supported the settlements in Israel. It’s logical for dovish organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace to support the Shministim, who represent the values that we wish Jews and Israel would represent everywhere - authentic commitment to the value of human lives. Especially in the days of Hanukkah. They are a small light which shines bright in days of great darkness.”

The Jewish Voice for Peace internet site offers a ready-made text which users can send to Barak after filling out their email addresses, their names and other details.

“I support the Shministim and their right to peacefully object to military service,” the standard letter reads. “I call for the release of those teenagers who have been jailed for their principled refusal to serve in an army which occupies the Palestinian Territories. The imprisonment of these conscientious objectors is a violation of their human rights and contrary to International Law.”

The letter continues: “I am inspired by these caring students and their counterparts in Palestine, whose nonviolent resistance to the Occupation points the way to a just peace and security for all people in the region. They are our best hope for the future. I urge you to heed them, and not punish them.”

The IDF objectors also received a show of support from 25 American objectors who refused to fight in the Middle East.

“We, soldiers in the U.S. Army who refused to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, demonstrate our solidarity with the Israeli Shministim,” they wrote. “The War on Terror, like the Israeli occupation, is fueled by racism and dehumanization.”

Source

The teenagers are right, Israel is committing crimes against humanity. Starvation is a crime.

Israel starving Palestinians: UN

‘POLITICAL CRISIS’:

The UN Relief and Works Agency fears that irreversible damage is being done as the latest statistics reveal the level of deprivation in the Gaza Strip

December 22, 2008

Impoverished Palestinians on the Gaza Strip are being forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps to survive as Israel’s economic blockade risks causing irreversible damage, international observers said.

Figures released last week by the UN Relief and Works Agency reveal that the economic blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in July last year has had a devastating impact on the local population. Large numbers of Palestinians are unable to afford the high prices of food being smuggled through the Hamas-controlled tunnels to the Strip from Egypt and last week were confronted with the suspension of UN food and cash distribution as a result of the siege.

The figures collected by the UN agency show that 51.8 percent — an “unprecedentedly high” number of Gaza’s 1.5 million population — are now living below the poverty line. The agency has announced that it had been forced to stop distributing food rations to the 750,000 people in need and had also suspended cash distributions to 94,000 of the most disadvantaged who were unable to afford the high prices being asked for smuggled food.

“Things have been getting worse and worse,” the agency’s Chris Gunness said yesterday. “It is the first time we have been seeing people picking through the rubbish like this looking for things to eat. Things are particularly bad in Gaza City where the population is most dense.”

“Because Gaza is now operating as a ‘tunnel economy’ and there is so little coming through via Israeli crossings, it is hitting the most disadvantaged worst,” he said.

Gunness also expressed concern about the state of Gaza’s infrastructure, including its water and sewerage systems, which have not been maintained properly since Israel began blocking shipments of concrete into Gaza, warning of the risk of the spread of communicable diseases both inside and outside of Gaza.

“This is not a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “This is a political crisis of choice with dire humanitarian consequences.”

The revelations over the escalating difficulties inside Gaza were delivered a day after the end of the six-month ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, which had been brokered by Egypt in June, and follow warnings from the World Bank at the beginning of December that Gaza faced “irreversible” economic collapse.

The deteriorating conditions in Gaza emerged as former British prime minister Tony Blair, Middle East envoy for the Quartet — US, Russia, the UN and the EU — warned yesterday that Israel’s economic blockade, which had been imposed a year and a half ago when Hamas took power on the Gaza Strip, was reinforcing rather than undermining the party’s hold on power. Blair said the collapse of Gaza’s legitimate economy under the impact of the blockade had allowed the emergence of an alternative system based on smuggling through the Hamas-controlled tunnels. Hamas “taxed” the goods smuggled through the tunnels.

It was because of this that Blair wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this month demanding that Israel permit the transfer of cash into Gaza from the West Bank.

Calling for a change in policy over Gaza, Blair said: “I don’t think that the current situation is sustainable; I think most people who would analyze it think the same.”

Blair’s comments came as an Israeli air strike against a rocket squad killed a Palestinian militant yesterday, the first Gaza death since Hamas formally declared an end to a six-month truce with Israel.

Also on Saturday, a boat carrying a Qatari delegation, Lebanese activists and journalists from Israel and Lebanon sailed into Gaza City’s small port in defiance of a border blockade. It was the fifth such boat trip since the summer. The two Qatari citizens aboard the Dignity are from the government-funded Qatar Authority for Charitable Activities.

“We are here to represent the Qatar government and people,” delegation member Aed al-Kahtani said. “We will look into the needs of our brothers in Gaza, and find out what is the most appropriate way to bring in aid.”

The arrival of the delegation reflects the growing anger in the Arab world over the Gaza siege.

On Friday, thousands of people joined a rally in Beirut organized by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Addressing the Beirut crowd, Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem called on Arab and Islamic governments to act to help lift the Gaza blockade, and urged Egypt to take an “historic stance” by opening its border crossing with Gaza.

“Silence on the [Gaza] blockade is disgraceful. Silence on the blockade amounts to participation in the [Israeli] occupation,” Kassem said.

Source

Israel’s ‘Crimes Against†Humanity’

By Chris Hedges
December 15, 2008

Israel’s siege of Gaza, largely unseen by the outside world because of Jerusalem’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid workers, reporters and photographers access to Gaza, rivals the most egregious crimes carried out at the height of apartheid by the South African regime. It comes close to the horrors visited on Sarajevo by the Bosnian Serbs. It has disturbing echoes of the Nazi ghettos of Lodz and Warsaw.

“This is a stain on what is left of Israeli morality,” I was told by Richard N. Veits, the former U.S. ambassador to Jordan who led a delegation from the Council on Foreign Relations to Gaza to meet Hamas leaders this past summer. “I am almost breathless discussing this subject. It is so myopic. Washington, of course, is a handmaiden to all this. The Israeli manipulation of a population in this manner is comparable to some of the crimes that took place against civilian populations fifty years ago.”

The U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, former Princeton University law professor Richard Falk, calls what Israel is doing to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza “a crime against humanity.” Falk, who is Jewish, has condemned the collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza as “a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” He has asked for “the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.”

Falk, while condemning the rocket attacks by the militant group Hamas, which he points out are also criminal violations of international law, goes on to say that “such Palestinian behavior does not legalize Israel’s imposition of a collective punishment of a life- and health-threatening character on the people of Gaza, and should not distract the U.N. or international society from discharging their fundamental moral and legal duty to render protection to the Palestinian people.”

“It is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive in terms of their health,” Falk said when I reached him by phone in California shortly before he left for Israel. “This is an increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that 46 percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live. Over 50 percent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live.”

Gaza now spends 12 hours a day without power, which can be a death sentence to the severely ill in hospitals. There are few drugs and little medicine, including no cancer or cystic fibrosis medication. Hospitals have generators but often lack fuel. Medical equipment, including one of Gaza’s three CT scanners, has been destroyed by power surges and fluctuations. Medical staff cannot control the temperature of incubators for newborns. And Israel has revoked most exit visas, meaning some of those who need specialized care, including cancer patients and those in need of kidney dialysis, have died. Of the 230 Gazans estimated to have died last year because they were denied proper medical care, several spent their final hours at Israeli crossing points where they were refused entry into Israel. The statistics gathered on children-half of Gaza’s population is under the age of 17-are increasingly grim. About 45 percent of children in Gaza have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth.

“It is macabre,” Falk said. “I don’t know of anything that exactly fits this situation. People have been referring to the Warsaw ghetto as the nearest analog in modern times.”

“There is no structure of an occupation that endured for decades and involved this kind of oppressive circumstances,” the rapporteur added. “The magnitude, the deliberateness, the violations of international humanitarian law, the impact on the health, lives and survival and the overall conditions warrant the characterization of a crime against humanity. This occupation is the direct intention by the Israeli military and civilian authorities. They are responsible and should be held accountable.”

The point of this Israeli siege, ostensibly, is to break Hamas, the radical Islamic group that was elected to power in 2007. But Hamas has repeatedly proposed long-term truces with Israel and offered to negotiate a permanent truce. During the last cease-fire, established through Egyptian intermediaries in July, Hamas upheld the truce although Israel refused to ease the blockade. It was Israel that, on Nov. 4, initiated an armed attack that violated the truce and killed six Palestinians. It was only then that Hamas resumed firing rockets at Israel. Palestinians have launched more than 200 rockets on Israel since the latest round of violence began. There have been no Israeli casualties.

“This is a crime of survival,” Falk said of the rocket attacks. “Israel has put the Gazans in a set of circumstances where they either have to accept whatever is imposed on them or resist in any way available to them. That is a horrible dilemma to impose upon a people. This does not alleviate the Palestinians, and Gazans in particular, for accountability for doing these acts involving rocket fire, but it also imposes some responsibility on Israel for creating these circumstances.”

Israel seeks to break the will of the Palestinians to resist. The Israeli government has demonstrated little interest in diplomacy or a peaceful solution. The rapid expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank is an effort to thwart the possibility of a two-state solution by gobbling up vast tracts of Palestinian real estate. Israel also appears to want to thrust the impoverished Gaza Strip onto Egypt. There are now dozens of tunnels, the principal means for food and goods, connecting Gaza to Egypt. Israel permits the tunnels to operate, most likely as part of an effort to further cut Gaza off from Israel.

“Israel, all along, has not been prepared to enter into diplomatic process that gives the Palestinians a viable state,” Falk said. “They [the Israelis] feel time is on their side. They feel they can create enough facts on the ground so people will come to the conclusion a viable state cannot emerge.”

The use of terror and hunger to break a hostile population is one of the oldest forms of warfare. I watched the Bosnian Serbs employ the same tactic in Sarajevo. Those who orchestrate such sieges do not grasp the terrible rage born of long humiliation, indiscriminate violence and abuse. A father or a mother whose child dies because of a lack of vaccines or proper medical care does not forget. A boy whose ill grandmother dies while detained at an Israel checkpoint does not forget. All who endure humiliation, abuse and the murder of family members do not forget. This rage becomes a virus within those who, eventually, stumble out into the daylight. Is it any wonder that 71 percent of children interviewed at a school in Gaza recently said they wanted to be a “martyr”?

The Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants and Islamic radicals. Jihadists, enraged by the injustices done by Israel and the United States, seek to carry out reciprocal acts of savagery, even at the cost of their own lives. The violence unleashed on Palestinian children will, one day, be the violence unleashed on Israeli children. This is the tragedy of Gaza. This is the tragedy of Israel.

Source

Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food†Aid

By Marie Colvin
December 14, 2008

As a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on.

“We had one meal today - khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”

Abu Amra and her unemployed husband have seven daughters and a son. Their tiny breeze-block house has had no furniture since they burnt the last cupboard for heat.

“I can’t remember seeing a fruit,” said Rabab, 12, who goes with her mother most mornings to scavenge. She is dressed in a tracksuit top and holed jeans, and her feet are bare.

Conditions for most of the 1.5m Gazans have deteriorated dramatically in the past month, since a truce between Israel and Hamas, the ruling Islamist party, broke down.

Israel says it will open the borders again when Hamas stops launching rockets at southern Israel. Hamas says it will crack down on the rocket launchers when Israel opens the borders.

The fragile truce technically ends this Thursday, and there have been few signs it will be renewed. Nobody knows how to resolve the stalemate. Secret talks are under way through Egyptian intermediaries, although both sides deny any contact.

Israel controls the “borders” and allows in humanitarian supplies only sporadically. Families had electricity for six hours a day last week. Cooking gas was available only through the illegal tunnels that run into Egypt, and by last week had jumped in price from 80 shekels per canister (£14) to 380 shekels (£66).

The UN, which has responsibility for 1m refugees in Gaza, is in despair. “The economy has been crushed and there are no imports or exports,” said John Ging, director of its relief and works agency.

“Two weeks ago, for the first time in 60 years, we ran out of food,” he said. “We used to get 70 to 80 trucks per day, now we are getting 15 trucks a day, and only when the border opens. We’re living hand to mouth.”

He has four days of food in stock for distribution to the most desperate - and no idea whether Israel will reopen the border. The Abu Amra family may have to eat wild grass for the foreseeable future.

Source

Hizbullah chief initiates open-ended protest until Gaza Strip siege is over

December 15 2008

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Monday called for an open-ended protest until the Gaza Strip siege is lifted. “Our actions that will start on Friday will not end on that day, but until the Gaza siege is lifted,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech broadcast on Al-Manar TV.

He called for a demonstration to be held next Friday in Beirut’s southern suburbs. “The Gaza siege is aimed at defeating the will of the Palestinian people so that the Zionists can impose their conditions,” Nasrallah said. “It’s our duty today to move and continue work to end the siege,” Nasrallah stressed.

He slammed Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for saying Israeli-Arabs who had national aspirations should move to a Palestinian state when it is established. “What Livni said was not a slip of the tongue,” Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah said there are two scenes in Gaza today — hunger, cold and shelling facing steadfastness. He called on Egypt to open Rafah border crossing permanently.

Addressing Arab and world countries, Nasrallah said: “From a humanitarian position I tell them that there are one and half million people in Gaza who face sickness and death.”

Turning to the Arabs, he asked: “where is the Arabian courage today?’

Source

Will the world do nothing to stop Genocide in†Gaza?

Israel’s settlement on Capital Hill
By Robert Weitzel

December 3 2008

Soon after the sand settled following the Six Day War in 1967, Jewish settlements began dotting the hills in the occupied territories. These settlements are typically located on the high ground to better control the surrounding landscape. Today there are 127 Jewish settlements with a population exceeding 468,000 in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and in the suburbs of East Jerusalem (Beit-ul-Moqaddas) — the last of nearly 8,000 settlers were removed from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

According to a recent Amnesty International report, “”In the first six months of 2008 Israel has expanded settlements in the West Bank/East Jerusalem (Beit-ul-Moqaddas) at a faster rate than in the previous seven years.”"

Unbeknownst to most Americans, Israel’s westernmost settlement is not located in Palestine-Israel, but is 6000 miles away on the high ground overlooking Foggy Bottom in Washington D.C.

This Capital Hill settlement of pro-Israel lobbies and think tanks strategically controls the high ground overlooking the United States’ Middle East policy landscape by having made kibbutzniks of most members of the executive and legislative branches of the government — including President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden (a wannabe Zionist), and future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (a born Zionist).

While Israel’s hilltop settlements in the occupied territories –violating over 30 UN Security Council resolutions since 1968 — are “”facts on the ground”" that make the two state peace solution unlikely, their hilltop settlement in the center of the world’s only superpower makes it equally unlikely that Israel’s right-wing government will feel compelled to end their “”self defensive”" brutalization of the Palestinian people, which has been condemned by the international community (UN, EU) as crimes against humanity.

John Holmes, UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that Israel’s blockade of vital supplies to the Gaza Strip in retaliation for rocket attacks “”amounts to collective punishment and is contrary to international humanitarian law.”"

Collective punishment is forbidden by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states, “”No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed.”" A “”protected person”" is someone who is under the control of an “”Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.”" Only the most ideologically blinkered individual would fail to recognize the Gaza Strip as occupied territory.

Israel’s current blockade of Gaza, which began on November 4, is resulting in what the UN Relief and Works Agency is calling a humanitarian catastrophe. Before the blockade, 1000 truckloads of food, fuel and essential supplies per day were necessary to sustain the 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned behind the concrete and barbed wire of the 25-mile long border. Eighty percent of Gazans live on two dollars a day and depend on international aid to survive. Since the border crossings were sealed, less than 100 truckloads have been permitted through.

The imprisoned Palestinians — 50 percent of whom are younger than 15 — are slowly starving. They lack the fuel to generate electricity for lighting, water purification, and sewage treatment. The erratic, intermittent electrical power puts the lives of patients in intensive care wards and those who are connected to live-sustaining equipment in grave peril. The lack of basic medicines such as antibiotics and insulin pose an equally fatal threat.

Twenty human rights organizations and all Israeli and international journalists have been barred from entering the Gaza Strip since the blockade began. A letter of protest signed by most major news organizations was sent to Prime Minister Olmert. Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror responded to the letter by saying that Israel was afraid journalists would inflate the Palestinians’ suffering. No one is allow to speak out on behalf of this beleaguered population.

President-elect Obama has been speaking out “”swiftly and boldly”" about the economic catastrophe threatening our 401Ks, but his silence regarding the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe threatening the lives of Palestinians is both deafening and telling of the price he’s willing to pay to maintain his status as kibbutznik-in-good-standing in Israel’s westernmost hilltop settlement.

Obama’s unconditional support for Israel’s policy of “”self defense,”" preemptive attacks, and repressive occupations is not one iota different from that of George W. Bush, an internationally recognized war criminal. This is not an encouraging beginning for a man whose battle cry was “”change we can believe in.”"

By any rational, humanitarian standard, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians amounts to collective punishment and crimes against humanity. Perpetrators of such crimes, whether they are individuals or governments or willing allies, are criminals who should one day sit in the dock of the International Court of Justice in The Hague — just as defendants sat in a Nuremberg court 60 years ago — and be held accountable for their crimes.

Until Israel’s hilltop settlement in our nation’s capital is dismantled, allowing for the possibility of a just and lasting peace in Palestine-Israel, its influence on both branches of our government and its insidious affect on U.S. Middle East policy will continue to make willing — or unwitting — kibbutzniks of all Americans. We will be held as complicit, and as culpable, as the citizens of the country whose leaders sat in the dock at Nuremberg.

The world will ask, “”Why didn’t you do something to stop it?”" The majority of us will reply, “”We didn’t know!”"

Source

By Paul J. Balles

30 November 2008

Paul J. Balles considers the “irony of Jews … denying food to hundreds of thousands of children [in Gaza] in order, allegedly, to insure their own security”, with US and European connivance and Arab regime silence.

While Americans concentrate on the cost of rescuing the US financial system, and Europeans worry about how the worldwide financial crisis will affect them, Israel blithely, with US government and European community approval, deprives Gaza’s entire civilian population of food, medicine and clean drinking water.

When pushed to explain their behaviour, they claim self-defence. Defence against whom? More than 50 per cent of the population in Gaza is comprised of children under the age of 15. Few people outside of Gaza even notice this slow genocide.

Israel always manages to commit its worst deeds when no one else is looking. If they happen to be caught, they blame it on the Palestinians – on a few resistance fighters lobbing rockets into Israel in retaliation for a broken cease-fire. To the Israeli, the actions of a few violent Palestinians are justifiable cause for genocide of the entire Palestinian population in Gaza. Joe Mowrey writes:

As conditions in the Gaza Strip approach a catastrophic level of deprivation, the world media, and in particular the US media, remain largely silent. The United Nations, whose truckloads of food and medical supplies continue to be denied entry into Gaza by Israel, appears to be one of the few international voices of dissent concerning the collective punishment of 1.5 million human beings.

As soon as someone takes notice of what Mowrey is talking about, the Israelis open the gates to allow a smattering of fuel or food into Gaza. Ironically, Khaled Meshaal has noted even Arab and Islamic regimes have remained silent about the tragedy resulting from the “criminal blockade” of Gaza. Andrea Becker, head of advocacy for Medical Aid for Palestinians, has written about how the blockade has affected the hospitals and medical facilities. These are hardly resistance fighters:

…a child on life support doesn’t have the oxygen of a mechanical ventilator. A nurse on a neo-natal ward rushes between patients, battling the random schedule of power cuts. A hospital worker tries to keep a few kidney dialysis machines from breaking down, by farming spare parts from those that already have. The surgeon operates without a bulb in the surgery lamp, across from the anaesthetist who can no longer prevent patient pain. The hospital administrator updates lists of essential drugs and medical supplies that have run out, which vaccines from medical fridges are now unusable because they can’t be kept cold, and which procedures must be cancelled altogether. The ambulance driver decides whether to respond to an emergency call, based on dwindling petrol in the tank.

Joe Mowrey reflects on the most bitter irony of all:

Has the sense of exclusivity and entitlement created by the Zionist experiment in Israel become so great that people there no longer see themselves in the mirror of their own history? The irony of Jews … denying food to hundreds of thousands of children in order, allegedly, to insure their own security, is breathtaking. Who could ever have imagined such a thing?

The Jewish Studies Global Directory of Holocaust Museums lists 61 memorial sites, including four in Israel and 24 in the United States. Reminders to the world? But not to Israelis? Not to Jews in America? Is it conceivable that Jews who remember the Holocaust only recognize genocide when they are the victims? Rabbi Meir Hirsh, Neturei Karta Palestine, provides an answer:

How long will Jewish and non-Jewish leaders who claim the mantle of civilization and morality remain silent in the face of the ongoing state terrorism practised by the Zionist state against the Palestinian People, most visibly today in Gaza, where the Zionists believe they can starve the Palestinians into submission in violation of all tenets of international law, all religious values in general, including the values of the Jewish faith?

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