Jan 22, 2009

More than 1500 Palestinians dead, over 436 children,

109 women, and more than 5,500 wounded

(Numbers taken from the Hebrew press today, those numbers are already inaccurate, as more and more bodies are found under the rubble))

What would this mean in Britain with its population of 60 million, in comparative terms?

It would mean more than 52,000 dead, 17,000 of them children, and 212,000 wounded.

More than 4,000 buildings destroyed in Gaza, more than 20,000 severely damaged

50,000 Gazans homeless and 400,000 without running water

(UN figures)

The UN says rebuilding the Gaza Strip will cost billions of dollars

The UN says rebuilding the Gaza Strip will cost billions of dollars

Supreme Court revokes ban on Arab parties from national elections: Ha’aretz

Israel’s Supreme court overruled on Wednesday a parliamentary panel which had decided to bar Israeli Arab parties from running in next month’s parliamentary election. The court issued its decision in response to an appeal filed by Arab politicians against the ban. A spokesman for the Courts Administration said judges overturned the ban in an unanimous vote Wednesday.
In response to the court decision, Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said: “We have defeated fascism, but this battle is not quite complete, discrimination has become centralized. We will finish this operation in Israel on the day of elections.”

The Central Elections Committee (CEC) last week banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad from running in February’s parliamentary elections amid accusations of racism from Arab MKs. Arab faction delegates in the CEC walked out of the hall before the vote, shouting, “this is a fascist, racist state.” As they walked out, CEC deputy chairman MK David Tal (Kadima) and the Arab delegates pushed each other and a Knesset guard had to intervene and separate them.

Gideon Levy / Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel: Ha’aretz

On the morrow of the return of the last Israeli soldier from Gaza, we can determine with certainty that they had all gone out there in vain. This war ended in utter failure for Israel. This goes beyond the profound moral failure, which is a grave matter in itself, but pertains to its inability to reach its stated goals. In other words, the grief is not complemented by failure. We have gained nothing in this war save hundreds of graves, some of them very small, thousands of maimed people, much destruction and the besmirching of Israel’s image. What seemed like a predestined loss to only a handful of people at the onset of the war will gradually emerge as such to many others, once the victorious trumpeting subsides. The initial objective of the war was to put an end to the firing of Qassam rockets. This did not cease until the war’s last day. It was only achieved after a cease-fire had already been arranged. Defense officials estimate that Hamas still has 1,000 rockets. The war’s second objective, the prevention of smuggling, was not met either. The head of the Shin Bet security service has estimated that smuggling will be renewed within two months.

Excellent piece by Gideon Levy, proving again that the main success Israel can achieve in any of those wars, such as it did in Lebanon in 2006, is mass murder of civilians, and field testing illegal weapons on them.

Investigate now: Ha’aretz Editorial

In the aftermath of the war, the questions arise. Now, as the last IDF soldiers leave the Gaza Strip and the plumes of smoke and dust dissipate over the ruins, the picture of the war starts becoming clearer.

The first wave of international journalists has already succeeded in entering Gaza through Rafah, despite the outrageous closure which Israel has imposed on coverage of the events. They are already reporting on the sights they are witnessing for the most important global media outlets. International aid organizations have also started investigating what transpired on the streets of Gaza. The questions are plentiful and troubling: the mass killing of civilians, among them 300 children and 100 women; the shooting at medical crews; the use of illegal munitions against a civilian population, including white phosphorus shells; the prevention of the evacuation of wounded; bombing and shelling of schools, hospitals, supply convoys and a UN facility. These questions cannot remain unanswered. The suspicion that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza is liable to cause it great damage. This is precisely the moment at which Israel needs to preempt the others and investigate itself. It is impossible to ignore what has already been reported, and one must not leave the task of investigating solely to foreign bodies, some of whom are hostile. Israel also needs to ask itself what was done in its name in Gaza. Were deeds that are never to be done, even in a time of war, perpetrated? Has the IDF crossed the line according to international law? Was there no other way apart from such widespread killing and destruction?

Ezbat Abed Rabbu, part of Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza

Ezbat Abed Rabbu, part of Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza

Israel does not need this probe solely because of image considerations. Its moral profile in its own eyes is invaluably important. Now, the time has come for a Winograd committee for this war: An independent legal official who will probe all accusations. Just as Israel investigates airplane crashes and instances of medical malpractice in hospitals, it must also probe its actions in Gaza. Such an independent investigation launched by Israel will to some extent dull the damage of the initial conclusions and the verdict that has already been levied against Israel across wide swaths of international public opinion. It will also enable Israelis to know what it is we did in Gaza, what was permitted and what was unnecessary and even forbidden, from a trusted source on whom Israelis can rely.
We cannot wait until the world has its say, and perhaps takes legal steps of its own.

I have included the whole editorial due to its importance and position. Nonetheless, we know damn well that none of this will happen, and the people who commanded this murderous operation will be the last to agree to an independent investigation. They have nothing to worry about – most of the Jewish Israelis are solidly behind this massacre of the innocents!

No reason for celebration: Israel Harel, Ha’aretz

Hundreds of thousands of starry-eyed Americans braved the bitter cold and the economic crisis to crowd the Mall in Washington, D.C., yesterday. They were joined by tens of millions more Americans who took off from work (at their own expense) to celebrate at home or in the streets, and to experience history in the making. They were motivated by a great hope and their towering optimistic character.
Ostensibly, this week Israelis also had a reason for joy and hope: the military victory that its leaders declared in high-flying language, a victory that is supposed to liberate them from the nightmare of rockets. But there is no joy in Israel: The people even in Netivot and Be’er Sheva did not take to the streets, entertainers did not make victory appearances in Ashdod and the Israel Defense Forces staged no triumphal parade in Ashkelon. Deep in their hearts, Israelis – all Israelis – feel no real reason for celebration.
Never mind the election-eve arrogance of politicians. But when the army also makes unsubstantiated statements like, “the goals have been attained,” the IDF, that is to say all of us, has a problem. What goals, pray tell? Has Gilad Shalit returned home? Have most of the rockets been destroyed? Has Hamas’ operational backbone been broken? Has its leadership been put out of commission? Can no more rockets be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, or be manufactured there? Are these not the goals for which we went into battle?

It is nice to see the cracks appearing in the edifice, now that the blood lust in Israeli circles has abated somewhat (or maybe slaked…) more and more commentators are pointing out the obvious failures of the war. Harel is not exactly a lefty – he is on the extreme right, but is not a fool, and points out the folly of the leadership, from his own perspective.

Olmert to Clinton: Israel will do all it can to prevent Gaza smuggling: Ha’aretz

Shortly after Hilary Clinton officially took the helm at the U.S. State Department on Thursday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed that Israel would do everything it could to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. During Israel’s recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces destroyed dozens of tunnels used for the smuggling of arms from Egypt into Gaza. “Israel will do everything in order to fight terror,” Olmert told Clinton in a phone conversation. One of Israel’s goals in the 3-week campaign was the destruction of the Hamas’ arsenal of rockets, which the group has used to terrorize southern Israel for the past eight years.

They are quite safe with Clinton – she will do anything they demand.

Rowson in the Independent, Jan 22, 2009

Rowson in the Independent, Jan 22, 2009

Gaza smugglers get back to work: BBC

Hundreds of Palestinians are starting to repair tunnels in Gaza that are used for smuggling in goods from Egypt.
Israel, which ended its 22-day offensive last Sunday, has warned of renewed military strikes on the strip if the tunnels are reopened. Residents along the border say food, fuel and other goods are moving through the several dozen tunnels that are still operational. Meanwhile, attempts continued in Egypt to find a lasting truce. The talks, with an Israeli envoy Amos Gilad, were expected to focus on stemming arms smuggling across the border.

Note the BBC objectivity and professionalism: The headline could never be: ‘After killing more than a thousand Gazans, Israel continues to starve 1.5 million’, could it. Instead, people who have been forced to dig tunnels in order to survive under an inhumane and illegal blockade, are described as ‘smugglers’. Thank you, auntie BBC for methodically getting it wrong. You can be relied upon to so; consistency is good, isn’t it? See below why the smuggling continues:

More than 1,300 Palestinians killed
13 Israelis killed ( 10 were soldiers, 3 killed by IOF)

50,000 Gazans homeless and 400,000 without running water

More than 4,000 buildings destroyed in Gaza, more than 20,000 severely damaged

UN demands flow of goods to Gaza: BBC

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes has urged Israel to fully open all crossings with Gaza to allow a free flow of goods.

Mr Holmes said that unless Israel allowed building materials into Gaza, no reconstruction could begin there. The UN says rebuilding Gaza after Israel’s three-week offensive against Hamas militants will cost billions of dollars.Early on Wednesday, Israel said it had completed its troop pull-out from Gaza.”The last soldier left the Gaza Strip this morning,” an Israeli military spokesman told journalists.”However the army remains deployed all around the Gaza Strip to meet any eventuality.” Palestinian medical sources in Gaza say at least 1,300 Palestinians were killed, nearly a third of them children, and 5,500 injured in the Israeli operation, which began on 27 December. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, have been killed, the Israeli army says.

Israel to probe phosphorus claims: BBC

Rights groups say images from the conflict prove the use of phosphorus

Rights groups say images from the conflict prove the use of phosphorus

The Israeli army is to investigate claims it used white phosphorus illegally during its three-week offensive in Gaza.

The move follows numerous allegations by rights groups and in media reports that the army fired phosphorus shells where they could harm civilians.
The UN said its headquarters were hit by three such shells causing a fire destroying much of its aid supplies.

White phosphorus is legal for making smokescreens on a battlefield. The Israeli army says all its weapons in the Gaza offensive were entirely legal, but until now has refused to specify which weapons it used.White phosphorus sticks to human skin and will burn right through to the bone, causing death or leaving survivors with painful wounds which are slow to heal. Its ingestion or inhalation can also be fatal.

Like all Israeli inquiries, it find no one to blame but the victims. Always blame the victim!

Gaza Conflict Map: BBC

Gaza Conflict Map

Gaza Conflict Map

Israeli forces ended their offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Saturday, 17 January, following the declaration of ceasefires by Hamas and Israel. Highlighted below are some of the main buildings identified as destroyed or damaged in Gaza City and the surrounding area as of 16 January, when this latest satellite image was taken.
The image, taken for Unosat at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, has helped researchers identify at least 566 destroyed or damaged buildings.

Gaza: Humanitarian situation: BBC

Aid agencies are battling to meet the urgent needs of tens and thousands of displaced, homeless and injured people in Gaza, as well as to get damaged water, power and sewage infrastructure back even to their ailing pre-war levels. That stage alone will cost “hundreds of millions” of dollars, while long term reconstruction will run into “billions,” the UN has said. Two separate Palestinian surveys have put the cost of the damage just under $2bn. One said it would take three to five years to rebuild even under normal conditions – never mind with the continued Israeli blockade which stops all but humanitarian basics entering the strip. As well as killing more than 1,300, and leaving 5,000 injured, the UN says that at its height, the Israeli operation left two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5m residents without power, a third without running water and medical facilities overwhelmed and lacking basic supplies.

Israeli strike on school filmed: BBC

Mobile phone footage from Gaza shows the moment on 17 January when a UN school in Beit Lahiya was hit by shellfire on the last day of Israel’s three-week offensive. The burning lumps are consistent with the incendiary device white phosphorus (WP) – which is banned from use within areas of civilian concentration under international weapons agreements. The UN says at least two artillery rounds emitting phosphorus landed inside the school where 1,600 Palestinians were seeking refuge from the bombardment. A high explosive shell also hit one of the school buildings, killing two boys, aged five and seven.
The Israeli army says the weapons it used in Gaza were all legal, but has launched an investigation into allegations of illegal use of WP.

A decisive loss for Israel: The Guardian

Hamas has emerged from the war stronger. Now we look to Obama to repair the errors of silence

Israel’s objectives from the war on Gaza were set long before its launch: to remove the Hamas movement and government, achieve the reinstallation of the Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in Gaza, and end the armed resistance. Two other objectives were not announced. First, restore the Israeli public’s wavering confidence in its armed forces after its defeat by Hezbollah in 2006. Second, boost the coalition government in the coming elections.
Accordingly, we declare that Israel lost, and lost decisively. What did it achieve? The killing of large numbers of civilians, children and women, and the destruction of homes, ministry buildings and other infrastructure with the most advanced US weapons and other internationally banned chemical and phosphorous elements. Almost 2,000 children were killed and injured in desperate pursuit of political goals. Many international organisations called these attacks war crimes, yet barely a word of denunciation was uttered by any western leader. What message does the EU mean to send Palestinians by its shameful silence on these crimes, when it speaks incessantly on human rights?

Sharpeville 1960, Gaza 2009: Dr. Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada

“Where can I bring him a father from? Where can I bring him a mother from? You tell me!”
These are the desperate words of Subhi Samuni to Al-Jazeera’s Gaza correspondent. Subhi lost 17 members of his immediate family, including the parents of his seven-year-old grandson. Shockingly, even as I write this article, corpses of the Samuni family are still being retrieved from under the rubble — 15 days after the Israeli occupation forces shelled the two houses. The Israeli army locked 120 members of the family in one house for 12 hours before they shelled it.
Subhi’s words echo the harsh reality of all Palestinians in Gaza: alone, abandoned, hunted down, brutalized, and, like Subhi’s grandson, orphaned. Twenty-two days of savage butchery took the lives of more than 1,300 Palestinians, at least 85 percent of them civilians, including 434 children, 104 women, 16 medics, four journalists, five foreigners, and 105 elderly people.
What can one say to comfort a man who has the harrowing task of having to bury his entire family, including his wife, his sons, his daughters and his grandchildren? Tell us and we will relay your words to Uncle Subhi because his loss has made our words of condolences meaningless to our ears.

More bodies are discovered every fday

More bodies are discovered every fday

Ignoring the roots of conflict : Dalila Mahdawi, The Electronic Intifada

My uncle, aunt and cousins in Gaza have not showered for more than two weeks now. I make a point of this because Samuel Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as “Joe the Plumber” who was propelled into the limelight for questioning then US President-elect Barack Obama, has become a so-called “war correspondent” in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Talking to The Guardian from his new beat, he spoke with sympathy about how difficult life must be for Sderot’s residents. “The people of Sderot can’t do normal things day to day, like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear a rocket might come in. I’m sure they’re taking quick showers. I know I would.”
I wonder what Wurzelbacher would make, then, of the “day to day” lives of the people in Gaza, whose water tanks have run dry, who have no electricity, and where many are struggling to pay for flour, the price of which has jumped to around 160 shekels (around $40) a sack due to the recent onslaught. I wonder, too, what Wurzelbacher would think of my uncle’s recent argument with his wife about the family’s sleeping arrangements. When Israel began its latest military campaign on 27 December, my aunt had wanted everyone to sleep in one room so they could all die together if the house was struck. However, my uncle meanwhile thought they should spread out to increase the chance of someone surviving.

Up to 200 still missing under Gaza’s rubble : Erin Cunningham, The Electronic Intifada

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – A pillow, a belt, a child’s school bag and pages of a torn copy of the Quran lie in the wreckage of the al-Daa family home in al-Zeitoun, a neighborhood of Gaza City. Twenty-four members of the family were killed when an F-16 fighter jet dropped a bomb on their house. Nine bodies still lie under what is now just a massive pancake of concrete, metal wires and death.
“There were no Hamas fighters here,” said Zohair al-Raay, a neighbor of the al-Daa family. “Where are the weapons? Where are the missiles? The al-Daa family had nothing to do with that.” Eyad al-Daa, father of 32, was found clutching three small children in the stairwell. As the ceasefire continues to hold, the sheer scale of the destruction in the Gaza Strip is finally emerging. The deadly, three-week assault by Israel has been devastating. Generations of families are vanished, and entire villages now destroyed. Many of the dead are still buried beneath the rubble, their neighbors and relatives left with no way to retrieve them.

A police state celebrates: Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada

JERUSALEM (IPS) – The Israeli government is stepping up efforts to suppress dissent and crush resistance in the streets.

Police have been videotaping the demonstrations and subsequently arresting protesters in large numbers.
According to Israeli police reports, at least 763 Israeli citizens, the majority of them Palestinian and 244 under 18 years old, have been arrested, imprisoned or detained for participating in such demonstrations. Most have been held and then released, but at least 30 of those arrested over the past three weeks are still being held in prison. Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations in Haifa, tells IPS that these demonstrations “are part of the uprising here inside the green line [the 1949 armistice boundary between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip], to share responsibility and to share the challenge with the people in the Gaza Strip.” As an organizer of many of these solidarity demonstrations inside Israel, Makhoul himself was arrested by the Shin Bet (the Israeli secret service). “They called me, came to my home and held me for four hours,” he tells IPS. “They accused me of being a terrorist and supporting terror. They said that they are watching me and monitoring me.” Israel, he said, “has become a terror state.”

Boycott calls renewed after Israel bombs University Teachers Assn.: Press release, PACBI, 18 January 2009

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott learned today from its Steering Committee member Dr. Haidar Eid that the headquarters of the University Teachers Association-Palestine, in Gaza, was bombed by the Israeli occupation forces during their indiscriminate, willful destruction campaign in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday.
This latest wanton attack on an academic organization is far from being an exception. It is only the latest episode in what Oxford University academic Karma Nabulsi has termed “scholasticide,” or Israel’s systematic and intentional destruction of Palestinian education centers. In its current war on Gaza alone, Israel has bombed the ministry of education, the Islamic University of Gaza, and tens of schools, including at least four UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] schools, after having largely destroyed the infrastructure of teaching throughout the year and a half of its illegal and criminal siege of the densely populated Gaza Strip.
The UTA headquarters is a detached two-story building that is clearly marked with the Association’s name. The bombed structure, which now stands without a roof, has sustained heavy structural damage and may be in danger of collapsing any time.

Profound psychological damage in Gaza: Electronic Intifada

Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 21 January 2009
Graffiti left by Israeli soldiers in a house they occupied in Ezbet Abed Rabu, eastern Jabaliya.
The streets leading from the seriously-damaged Wafa rehabilitation center in Shejaiyeh were filled with black filth smelling of sewage. The hospital — attacked on 12 January with a chemical bomb that may well have been white phosphorus and which set fire to the roof, and whose four different buildings were shelled intensely on 15 January — is trying to rebuild and reopen, as is the shelled, burned, seriously-damaged al-Quds hospital in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City.
Even today, after mentioning to the Canadian TV crew accompanying me that fire blobs had burned up ’til yesterday, we found still more blobs spread out, smoldering and willingly breaking into white smoking fires anew. I have seen this often enough now. They were impressed by it, by the fact that it’s now eight days after the fire and the blobs are still simmering, smoldering, ready to flame up.
The Red Crescent team of the north of Gaza had gathered at the Ezbet Abed Rabu station, to cut swathes of transparent plastic into lengths to be further cut to fit glass-less windows, blown out in the bombings on and around the houses. This is the first step in providing some immediate relief from the cold. For the homeless, however, I don’t know what will be offered, or if tents are available.

Robert Fisk: So far, Obama’s missed the point on Gaza…: The Independent

It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn’t the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to “slaughtered innocents”, but these were not quite the “slaughtered innocents” the Arabs had in mind.
There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he’s the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the “full partnership” Obama has apparently offered him, whatever “full” means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.
But for the people of the Middle East, the absence of the word “Gaza” – indeed, the word “Israel” as well – was the dark shadow over Obama’s inaugural address. Didn’t he care? Was he frightened? Did Obama’s young speech-writer not realise that talking about black rights – why a black man’s father might not have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago – would concentrate Arab minds on the fate of a people who gained the vote only three years ago but were then punished because they voted for the wrong people? It wasn’t a question of the elephant in the china shop. It was the sheer amount of corpses heaped up on the floor of the china shop.

Smugglers back at work in tunnels beneath Gaza: The Independent

Fuel and food still being brought in despite damage from Israeli bombing raids

Some Gazans are working to restart – or are continuing with – the smuggling of contraband under the Gaza-Egypt border, despite the hundreds of Israeli bombing raids which they admit have destroyed most of the tunnels that operated here until Operation Cast Lead began. They say that highly prized diesel and petrol for fuel-starved Gaza is still flowing through improvised piping under the border as other operators begin to assess the damage and work on reconstructing tunnels filled in by precision F16 bombing. As well as destroying or damaging hundreds of tunnels, the bombing has dramatised Israel’s central war aim of persuading Egypt – with international help – to call a halt to arms smuggling under the Rafah border. While arms are presumed to have been brought through the network, many of the openly dug tunnels have supplied fuel, domestic goods and livestock, in what a UN report last year described as a “vital economic lifeline” to a Gaza under blockade.
The tunnel numbers grew rapidly after Israel imposed its closure of Gaza when Hamas seized control by force in the wake of a short but bloody civil war between it and its Fatah rivals culminated in the June 2007 collapse of their short-lived coalition. Hamas insists the tunnelling would stop if the crossing were reopened for commercial goods.

Hamas admits killing ‘Israeli collaborators': The Independent

Hamas has effectively admitted killing Palestinians suspected of informing Israel on potential targets during the three week bombing and ground offensive in Gaza. While purporting not to know details, Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Islamic faction said yesterday in Gaza City that Israel had relied on “spies” to provide information including on the whereabouts of Hamas leaders. He added: “Maybe some of them were were killed because they wereacting against the population, against the resistance.” Mr Barhoum was speaking in the wake of a report in the Qatari daily A-Sharq which quoted Moussa Abu Marzuk, deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau as confirming that it had executed Gazans suspected of collaborating with Israel.
Mr Barhoum also disclosed that there had been “some investigation and interrogation” of persons accused of informing on the whereabouts of the Hamas interior minister Said Siyam, who was killed when his brother’s house in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza city was bombed last Thursday. It was easily the highest profile assassination of a Hamas leader to be carried out during the 22-day offensive. Mr Barhoum said it could not have been carried out without “spies” because Mr Siyam had been “moving from place to place” during the offensive.” Despite suggestions from Fatah that its members have been attacked byHamas Mr Barhoum den ied that the “spies” concerned were Fatah members. Instead he said that the informers had been acting “against Fatah, against Hamas, against the people.” He added: “The cause of the spies is the occupation [a term frequently used by Hamas hard-liners to describe Israel]. If there was no occupation there would be no spies.”

Patrick Cockburn: In Israel, detachment from reality is now the norm: The Independent

All these years on from Sabra and Chatila, has anything changed?

I was watching the superb animated documentary Waltz with Bashir about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It culminates in the massacre of some 1,700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in south Beirut by Christian militiamen introduced there by the Israeli army which observed the butchery from close range. In the last few minutes the film switches from animation to graphic news footage showing Palestinian women screaming with grief and horror as they discover the bullet-riddled bodies of their families. Then, just behind the women, I saw myself walking with a small group of journalists who had arrived in the camp soon after the killings had stopped. The film is about how the director, Ari Folman, who knew he was at Sabra and Chatila as an Israeli soldier, tried to discover both why he had repressed all memory of what happened to him and the degree of Israeli complicity in the massacre. Walking out of the cinema, I realised that I had largely repressed my own memories of that ghastly day. I could not even find a clipping in old scrapbooks of the article I had written about what I had seen for the Financial Times for whom I then worked. Even now my memory is hazy and episodic, though I can clearly recall the sickly sweet smell of bodies beginning to decompose, the flies clustering around the eyes of the dead women and children, and the blood-smeared limbs and heads sticking out of banks of brown earth heaped up by bulldozers in a half-hearted attempt to bury the corpses.

This is a perceptive and sharp article about the moral and political vacuity now normalised in Israel – I have included the end of the article below, due to its poignancy.

Intolerance of dissent has grown and may soon get a great deal worse. Benjamin Netanyahu, who helped bury the Oslo accords with the Palestinians when he was last prime minister from 1996 to 1999, is likely to win the Israeli election on 10 February. The only issue still in doubt is the extent of the gains of the extreme right.
The views of these were on display this week as Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of the Ysrael Beitenu party, which, according to the polls will do particularly well in the election, was supporting the disqualification of two Israeli Arab parties from standing in the election. “For the first time we are examining the boundary between loyalty and disloyalty,” he threatened their representatives. “We’ll deal with you like we dealt with Hamas.”

בור כרה ויחפרהו….

מאת יגאל לביב

ממשלת ישראל אימצה בהתלהבות את תורתו המלחמתית של הגאון התורן, האלוף גיורא איילנד, כי פגיעה קשה באוכלוסיית עזה, תוך התעלמות מהקודקס הבינלאומי תצרוב את תודעת החמאס כך שהם לא יעזו לירות עוד קסאמים.המטרה המוצהרת העיקרית של ההרג בעזה היתה ללמד לקח. הצרה היא שראשי המדינה וצבאה שכחו לבדוק מה תעשה צריבת התודעה הפלסטינית למוסלמים במדינות ערב. קיימת גם אפשרות כי שר הביטחון האנליטי הביא זאת בחשבון אולם הניח כי סגירת עזה לתקשורת תאפשר לישראל לעסוק בצריבה ללא הפרעה. הוא שגה שגיאה קשה כאשר לא הביא בחשבון כי בשנת 2009 לא ניתן למנוע דיווחים אלקטרוניים.

סיקור הרס עזה ואזרחיה ברשתות כמו אל-גאזירה ובי.בי.סי המגיעות לכל בית בארצות ערב גרם לההמונים בארצות המתונות כמו מצריים,ירדן,טורקיה לאיים על יציבות המשטר בארצותיהם. קטאר ומאוריטניה שעד כה ניסו לשמור על יחסים טובים גם עם ישראל נאלצו לנתקם. טורקיה עברה לעמוד בראש מחנה מתנגדי ישראל והצבא לא העז למנוע זאת. ירדן נאלצה לגרש את שגריר ישראל. גם מצריים הושפעה . ישראל ברוב טמטומה לא הבינה מה קורה במצריים והפעילה לחצים על העזתים כדי שיברחו לשטח מצריים דרך מעבר רפיח ובכך לסכן עוד יותר את משטרו הרופף של מובארק.

An excellent article in Hebrew by Yigal Laviv, above.

Analysis: Quiet! Army at work!: Jerusalem Post

While the Israeli media was blamed for exceeding its mandate during the Second Lebanon War, and even inadvertently providing information that assisted Hizbullah, some are now accusing the mainstream press of too willingly surrendering to the restrictions imposed by the IDF Spokesman’s Office while covering Operation Cast Lead.
During the Second Lebanon War, many both within and outside government accused the media of endangering soldiers by reporting on troop movements, not submitting to military censorship, and broadcasting material filmed by soldiers in the field.
By contrast, during the Gaza operation, some critics charge that the IDF expended enormous effort withholding information from the press, and that the local media went along – voluntarily censoring itself, dutifully sending material, as required by law, to the military censor, and sticking to a high-spirited mode of coverage.

Peres invites new envoys to join science and tech R&D council: Jerusalem Post

In a new initiative, President Shimon Peres wants to set up a council of developing countries that have binational agreements with Israel, with the aim of expanding research and development in science and technology for the mutual benefit of all member states.

President Shimon Peres: Jerusalem Post

Peres shared these ideas on Wednesday with four new ambassadors who came to Jerusalem to present their credentials.
Although the concept has been in the works for some time, it is not yet common knowledge.
Peres floated the idea on Wednesday at separate meetings with ambassadors Ivo Hlavacek of the Slovak Republic, Navtej Singh Sarna of India, Marica Matkovic of Croatia and Oybek Eshonov of Uzbekistan.
All four expressed interest, though Hlavacek, a lawyer by training, was somewhat cautious and said he would have to hear more. Meanwhile, Peres, who is intently focused on the council, will raise the matter at the World Economic Forum in Davos next week during meetings with world leaders and heads of major companies.

We have to fight such initiative to help the Gaza butchers!

Israeli offensive in Gaza: Letters to the editor, Irish Times

Madam, – On numerous occasions this week I have been called on to apologise for my comments at last week’s Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee.
At that meeting I compared the propaganda efforts of both Deputy Alan Shatter and the Israeli ambassador to those employed by the Nazi regime in denying the Holocaust.
Anyone who takes the time to read the full transcript of the debate would be in no doubt that my comments were in no way prompted by Deputy Shatter’s religious status but rather by his appalling efforts to justify the unjustifiable murder of hundreds of Palestinian children and civilians by Israel.
To derive from my support for the Palestinian people that I am anti-Semitic is twisted logic.
To deny that white-phosphorous was used by Israel against the Palestinians is blatantly false.
To attempt to justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, the killing of hundreds of innocent children and civilians, the complete destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, the blocking of food, medical supplies and fuel into Gaza and the targeting of schools and creches, as Deputy Shatter and the Israeli ambassador did during that meeting, is to attempt to justify the unjustifiable, as the infamous Nazi war propagandist Josef Goebbels did during the Holocaust.
This is the context within which I made my comments.
I apologise only to the Palestinian people for unintentionally distracting media attention from their immediate plight and for the failures of my Government and of others in my Parliament to take stronger action. – Yours, etc,

Madam, – We are people in Ireland who are Jewish or of Jewish descent.
We are appalled by Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. We have seen people justifying this on the basis of Israel’s “security concerns” and attacking supporters of peace for being anti-Jewish. In this climate we feel it important to assert that it is not anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish to oppose Israel’s action. Nor, however, can it be part of any progressive political vision to conflate what the Israeli state has done and is doing in Gaza as being supported by Jews worldwide. Throughout the world, Jews have opposed the invasion of Gaza. In Israel itself, tens of thousands protested this war; they have been attacked by police and right-wing mobs and many Israelis, predominantly non-Jewish but also Jewish, have been imprisoned. We ask people to support these Israelis.
As for Israel’s security concerns, two points need to be made. Firstly nothing, but nothing, justifies the massacre of innocent people. Secondly, peace will only come about through justice for the Palestinian people and through negotiations between Israel and elected Palestinian representatives. One does not need to be Jewish to know this. We ask people not to claim to speak for us when justifying Israel’s barbarity. – Yours, etc,

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