Jan 13, 2009

More than 935 Palestinians dead, over 311 children,

4,300 wounded

bell-jan13

Steve Bell in The Guardian

Israel may face UN court ruling on legality of Gaza conflict: The Guardian

Israel faces the prospect of intervention by international courts amid growing calls that its actions in Gaza are a violation of world humanitarian and criminal law. The UN general assembly, which is meeting this week to discuss the issue, will consider requesting an advisory opinion from the international court of justice, the Guardian has learned. “There is a well-grounded view that both the initial attacks on Gaza and the tactics being used by Israel are serious violations of the UN charter, the Geneva conventions, international law and international humanitarian law,” said Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.

Israelis ‘push on into Gaza City': BBC

Israeli troops have entered the suburbs of Gaza City and are engaged in street fighting with militants, reports say. Witnesses said Israeli special forces had advanced several hundred metres into several neighbourhoods and that intense gunfire could be heard. Earlier, Israeli planes attacked more targets in Gaza as Israel’s offensive against Hamas entered an 18th day. You must have noticed the BBC has started to remove the topic from its bulletins, as downgraded it to the bottom of the list and the agenda, much lower than a murder in a post-office, for example. After all, dead Palestinians is no news, is it, so can just forget about it and move on. We should all complain about this appalling civic, professional and moral failure by the Beeb! Please use the PM and Today blogs, as well as the genera BBC blogs to complain about this, so they will know that we do not accept this behaviour.

Israel and the family of nations: The Guardian editorial

What actions or arguments can the rest of the world take or make that will have any resonance in a country which now gives every appearance of having turned its back on global opinion? The Times’s chief leader writer last week attempted a measured explanation of why international pressure on Israel often seems so futile and inadequate. The experience of Jews in the first half of the 20th century, he wrote, meant that Jews no longer felt safe as the wards of world opinion. “When Israel is urged to respect world opinion and put its faith in the international community the point is rather being missed,” he wrote. “The very idea of Israel is a rejection of this option.” This is the Guardian, but actually Jonathan Friedland, advising David Miliband, who is Israels strongest apologist, what to ask Mr. Prossor, Israel’s ambassador. How civilised this all sounds, much more than sanctions and boycotts which the Guardian, on the advice of Friedland, is shunning as some terrible options. Of course, it is so much more civilised to have drinks while the blood flows in Gaza…

Amid the horror and doom of Gaza, the IRA precedent offers hope: The Guardian

The Northern Ireland example is instructive. Through dialogue even the most implacable of enemies can make peace The smart money in the Middle East is always on pessimism. Events can be relied on to get worse and worse. But perennial gloom has a flaw. Its unstated assumption is that the war between Israelis and Palestinians is somehow unique – that it is the only conflict in the history of the world that cannot be solved or even ended. The great optimist of The Guardian, always ready to see the light around the corner at the darkest hours, has manged to resolve the conflict for both sides. Now all they need to do is read the Guardian…

Gaza clinic destroyed in strike: BBC

The charity Christian Aid says a clinic for mothers and babies in Gaza, which it funds along with the EU, has been destroyed in an Israeli air strike. The clinic, which was run by the Near East Council of Churches, was struck by a missile after a 15-minute warning was sent to the building’s owners. Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical equipment was destroyed by the strike, which happened on Saturday. This must be what the Israelis have in mind when they speak of ‘surgical strikes’!

Backing for invasion remains strong: The Guardian

Support for the onslaught on Gaza is solid across the spectrum of Israeli opinion despite international horror at the mounting death toll, according to the latest polls. More than 90% of Jewish Israelis back the invasion, although that view is reversed among Israeli Arabs, according to the latest War and Peace Index in December. Attitudes among Israelis are so hardened that 80% would oppose Israel opening its crossings to Gaza even if Hamas stopped firing on southern towns such as Ashkelon and Sderot, the monthly survey, conducted by Tel Aviv University for the last 15 years, showed. Nothing like democracy – no one will be able to say, later when the international courts sit over the war crimes, that they were against it! We know exactly who was against it, and that is a tiny group. This mass murder is popular in Israel, which should tell anyone still confused about this society what it is about.

UN chief wants Gaza conflict halt: BBC

The UN secretary general has implored Israel and Palestinian militants to halt the fighting in Gaza immediately. Ahead of a trip to the region to push for a truce, Ban Ki-moon said too many people had died and there had been too much civilian suffering. His call came as Israeli ground forces and tanks moved deeper into Gaza City, with a BBC producer there saying he could hear shooting from tanks.

Israel generals discuss scope of war: BBC

Even as the United Nations secretary general sets off on a tour of the region, the Israeli military has been launching raids ever deeper into Gaza City. But is this gradual expansion of the ground operation merely intended to speed the work of the diplomats, or is there a precise military goal in mind? Yaakov Amidror, a former major general in military intelligence, believes Israel should go into Gaza as decisively as it went into the West Bank during the second intifada. […] Maj Gen Giora Eiland, the former head of Israel’s National Security Council, disagrees.He concedes that a wide military re-occupation of Gaza is certainly an option. But he favours halting operations now, and instead turning the screw on Egypt. The ideal, he says, would be to stop arms smuggling by forcing Egypt to police a buffer zone five to 10 kilometres (three to seven miles) around Gaza’s south-western border. And you can get Egypt to act, he says, by squeezing everyone in Gaza even tighter. Fascinating intellectuals, don’t you agree? It warms your heart to know that insude the IOF, there is genuine intellectual debate about how the killing and murder shall be best carried out. So we can look forward to more murders on a massive scale, unless the international community, the ‘free world’ or the UN can stop those murderous war criminals.

Gazans are packing and moving out of their homes, says Hatem Shurrab

Gazans are packing and moving out of their homes, says Hatem Shurrab

Aid worker diary: Part 14: BBC

I haven’t been able to write my diary for 48 hours – I’ve simply not had time and have been busy working with colleagues to prepare thousands of food parcels for desperate people. We have to finish distributing aid before it gets dark and make sure that we are back home, as there is no electricity and families and loved ones worry if we are out on the streets. The bombardment intensifies at night and so it’s not wise to be out then. Lost friends I sometimes wonder if there will be enough space to bury the dead. Yesterday a friend of mine was killed in his home. He was a journalist and worked for a radio station. Since the attacks started on Gaza I have lost good friends – and if you ask me how I feel about it – well, I can’t really say as I’m trying to block it out so I can focus on my work. Above, the criminal generals speak on ‘tightening the screws’ so here speas someone on whom the screws are being indeed tightened.

Gazan families: Pulling together: BBC

With the conflict between Hamas and the Israeli military in its third week, BBC News returns to two Palestinian families in different parts of the Gaza Strip to find out how they are coping.We could not reach the third family, headed by Tamer, in Beit Lahiya by telephone. Yesterday all five of us spent the night in the living room together for the first time – but we didn’t get any sleep. I had been in my room, trying to relax, when the wooden shutters on my windows blew open with the force of an explosion at the top of our street. They attacked the house of a former [Fatah] government boss – I don’t know why. The house is about a 100m away from us and I have a friend who lives right next door to it. Only a wall separates his home from the one that was attacked last night. He still hasn’t replied to my text message. He’s the only friend I don’t know about at the moment. I stay in touch with everyone by text, mainly. It’s more reliable than the landline. Please read this simple, truthful and moving account of normal life in Gaza, so to speak. The screws are tightened, as promised by the good generals above.

Gaza conflict: Who is a civilian?: BBC

The Interior Ministry was hit in the first strike targeting a government building

The Interior Ministry was hit in the first strike targeting a government building

The bloodied children are clearly civilians; men killed as they launch rockets are undisputedly not. But what about the 40 or so young Hamas police recruits on parade who died in the first wave of Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza? And weapons caches are clearly military sites – but what about the interior ministry, hit in a strike that killed two medical workers; or the money changer’s office, destroyed last week injuring a boy living on the floor above? As the death toll mounts in Gaza, the thorny question is arising of who and what can be considered a legitimate military target in a territory effectively governed by a group that many in the international community consider a terrorist organisation.

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Israel disqualifies Arab parties: BBC

Israel’s election authorities have voted to ban two of the three main Arab political parties from running in next month’s general elections. The Central Election Committee (CEC)voted overwhelmingly to ban the United Arab List-Ta’al (UAL-Ta’al) and Balad, accusing them of supporting terrorism. An MP for UAL-Ta’al said the move was racist and he would appeal against it. Arabs make up about a fifth of Israel’s population and hold seven of 120 seats in the Knesset, or parliament. Israeli Arabs have full citizenship but often complain they suffer from discrimination. This latest attack on the Palestinian citizens of Israel is both racist and politically criminal, the true face of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ and only the latest and wildest attempt to disown and dispossess Palestinians on both sides of the Apartheid Wall, by those who wish to ethnically cleanse the whole country. In some sense, it is useful for those who oppose Zionism, as it unmasks the beast hiding behind the liberal pretenses and clarifies the situation.

Israelis ‘edge into urban Gaza’: BBC

Israeli forces are moving slowly into Gaza’s most densely populated areas, reports say, as they continue air and ground attacks on Hamas militants. Some reservists are in action on the ground, but the army denied escalating the war to a “third phase” – an all-out push on Gaza City and other towns. Air strikes also continued through the day against 25 “targets” across the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said. Nearly 30 rockets or mortars were fired on Israel from Gaza.

Holocaust Denied: Lying Silence of Those Who Know: Palestine Chronicle

By John Pilger “When the truth is replaced by silence,” the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko said, “the silence is a lie.” It may appear the silence is broken on Gaza. The cocoons of murdered children, wrapped in green, together with boxes containing their dismembered parents and the cries of grief and rage of everyone in that death camp by the sea, can be viewed on al-Jazeera and YouTube, even glimpsed on the BBC. But Russia’s incorrigible poet was not referring to the ephemeral we call news; he was asking why those who knew the why never spoke it and so denied it. Among the Anglo-American intelligentsia, this is especially striking. It is they who hold the keys to the great storehouses of knowledge: the historiographies and archives that lead us to the why.

Gaza massacres (27 December 2008 – ): Electronic Intifada

On 27 December, Israel began its bombardment on Gaza and then on 3 January began its ground offensive. At the end of 8 January in Gaza, at least 763 Gazans had been killed, including more than 200 children, and more than 3,000 injured since 27 December, according to Al Jazeera. Israel claims that it is targeting Hamas armed fighters and infrastructure, ostensibly in response to the firing of homemade rockets from Gaza into Israel. However, field investigations by the Gaza-based human rights organization Al Mezanshow that United Nations-administered schools, mosques, universities, emergency medical crews, private homes and other civilian objects have all been in Israel’s sights.

Video of New York rally

In this video, Max Blumenthal of Alternet attends the January 11, 2009 rally in support of Israel’s war in New York City. Senator Charles Schumer and Governor David Paterson were featured speakers. Blumenthal asks rally participants how many civilian casualties it would take for them to reconsider Israel’s actions. The demonstrators who respond, all of whom seem to be Jewish, offer disturbing and revealing answers that show hardline support for an extreme, militaristic Israel, fears and claims that Israel and Jews are facing a second Holocaust, and blanket accusations and condemnation of Islam. Regarding Islam: if the word “Islam” were replaced with the word “Judaism” on the signs the demonstrators carried, or if “Hamas” were replaced with “Israel,” most of the media consuming and producing world would object to the anti-semitism. Demonstrators, the media and, perhaps most importantly, policymakers Schumer and Paterson not only did not object to the signs but rather endorse them by participating in this rally.

This obscene rally, with people jumping for joy over the blood of children, should be seen by all!

Tony Benn | Stop the Gaza Massacre Rally in London | 8 January 2009

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