November 2012

November 30, 2012

EDITOR: What a surprise… Israel is stunned by its own stupidity.

For years President Abbas of Palestine played the Israeli game, running the West Bank in favour of Israel, acting as its chief police officer.Every time he begged for negotiations, he was told the time is not right, that it can only be held in Yiddish on the last day of an odd month in an even year, or that he must grow up before his request is granted. In the meantime, Israel continued to oppress, to steal the land, to build illegal settlements. Why not? Did anyone else care what they did? The UN surely did not, and the western nations did all they could to assist the illegal moves, and the occasional wars required by the nefarious Israeli political scene. With the US, EU and the rest of the western powers totally committed to allow Israel just about anything, there was hardly any reason for Israel to even notice Abbas, not to mention speaking to him meaningfully.

Hamas understood this from the start, and acted differently, trying to organise against the occupation, to struggle against it. It also kept its hands clean, as opposed to the powerful in Ramallah, many of whom were involved in the commodity market with Israeli collusion. Both under Arafat and under Abbas, the corruption continued and intensified, its main task being serving Israeli interests. This has led to the clear understanding of the differences between the two organisations and their respective positions in the Palestinian public, and to the election of Hamas by a large majority in 2006. If elections were held today, that majority will be even larger.

Faced with this predicament, and in preparation for an belated election, the unelected Abbas (his term has run out over a year ago) was spurred into action, and having failed in his bid at the Security Council, he ended up with the move yesterday, on the 65th anniversary of the UN Resolution 181, fatally dividing Palestine into two states in 1947. As expected, the resolution passed last night by a large and decisive majority in the General assembly – hardly surprising after almost five decades of Israeli shenanigans, and the brutal attack on Gaza last week, not to mention the killing of over 1400 Palestinians in Gaza in January 2009. The international community, never a model of moral behaviour, is making Palestine an exception, and acting morally, if very belatedly, to address the great injustice, if in a mainly symbolic manner.

But symbols make a difference. The combined efforts of the Hamas resistance to the occupation, and Abbas’ diplomatic action, have placed Palestine on the international agenda like never before. Their main helper in this effort is the Israeli government of Benyamin Netanyahu – an arrogant, aggressive and brutal enemy, intent on ignoring both the UN and the realities in Palestine and the Middle East, despite the changed nature of the region since the start of the Arab Spring. This intransigence is likely to be its downfall, in the long run. The general impatience with Israel’s chuztpah and brutality was palpable in the General Assembly yesterday, and Ron Prossor’s disgusting pack of lies has done nothing to assuage the general fatigue with Israel’s aggression. It is universally understood, even by its allies (most of which did not vote with Israel, but abstained) that Israel has become not just a thorny problem, but a real danger to world peace. The promise to attack Iran and Hizbollah is forever hovering above the region, threatening a wide-ranging, all-encompassing conflict, with far reaching consequences for the economies of the world. Even the countries who support and finance Israel are frightened of its inflexibility and automatic aggressive posture on any question whatsoever. The time for a rethinking of the Palestine question has clearly come. Again, November the 29th is a decisive date, one which will change the Middle East for decades to come.

Where does this leave the political solution on everybody’s lips, the one supposedly agreed to by all concerned – the so-called Two State solution?

This idea, making much sense after 1948, and especially after 1967, as long as it included a just solution for the Palestinian refugees, was efficiently sabotaged by five decades of illegal settlement building by Israel. This was the main function of the settlements, built equally by governments of left, right and centre in Israel. Israel has a wide-ranging agreement on the settlements, and on the political framework which forces their existence – the “Jewish State” an undemocratic, racist colonial state, guaranteeing apartheid and inequality to all Palestinians, either under its direct premises, or under its military control, in the whole of Palestine. A Two State solution is impossible because Israel makes it so. This was even pointed out by Ehud Olmert, not exactly a dove of peace, and responsible for the 2009 Gaza carnage. Not for the first time, he argued this week that Israel’s opposition to the UN vote is futile, and that a failure to move positively towards two states is only advancing the other solution – that of the single, secular democratic state in Palestine.

Of course, Olmert is right. The only solution still on the table, because Israel has trashed the other ones, is the single state. It was the preferred solution of the Palestinians in 1947, and the solution proposed by the PLO originally. Ironically, it is Israel which has propelled the conflict into this corner again, where it finds itself unprepared and unwilling. The single, secular democratic state is difficult to argue against, of course; it is simply more just and logical than a herrenvolk democracy, the democracy of the Master race, which has been built by Israel in Palestine, excluding the indigenous population from any political structure of control, and denying it any rights of any kind. The arguments against the single, secular democratic state are by nature anti-democratic, are based on apartheid founded on ethno-religious superiority, and are unlikely to prevail in the long run. Both sides will have to give up quite a lot, of course. The Israeli apartheid system will have to be taken apart bit by bit, and the Zionist project terminated. The Palestinians will have to forgo self-determination, which they never had achieved, for the simple right of living in their own land as human beings, and to live cheek by jowl with their former oppressors. Not a simple task, by any yardstick.

However, there seems to be no other serious option left. There was no other option left in either South Africa, or Northern Ireland, either. The fact that this is the only really just option will make it work, with the inventiveness and energy so typical of both the communities in this conflict. Much will have to be invented, much will have to be engineered in order to guarantee the smooth running of this complex beast, the democratic republic of Palestine. But the need will make virtue out of necessity, and will make possible what today seems pure fiction.

The real question is how much blood needs to be shed before this development is allowed to replace the conflict. This will depend not only on Israel, like things now stand, with it being the only agent of change. It will also depend on Palestine, the Arab East, and far beyond – it will depend on the international community, that moved a step forward yesterday, towards a just peace in the Middle East. Only a concerted effort, like in the case of South Africa, using the peaceful means of boycott, divestment and sanctions, can bring about a long-term, durable just peace in Palestine. It is a global interest that we all play our part.

UN general assembly makes resounding vote in favour of Palestinian statehood: Guardian

Overwhelming majority votes to recognise Palestine as non-member state as US and Israel are left to condemn decision

Palestinians celebrate in the West Bank

Palestinians celebrate in Ramallah after the general assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations general assembly voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to recognise Palestine as a state, in the face of opposition from Israel and the US.

The 193-member assembly voted 138 in favour of the plan, with only nine against and 41 abstentions. The scale of the defeat represented a strong and public repudiation for Israel and the US, who find themselves out of step with the rest of the world.

Thursday’s vote marked a diplomatic breakthrough for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and could help his standing after weeks in which he has been sidelined by Palestinian rivals Hamas in the Gaza conflict.

Abbas, who flew from Ramallah, on the West Bank, to New York to address the general assembly, said: “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.”

A Palestinian flag was unfurled on the floor of the general assembly after the vote.

Several hundred people turned out in Yasser Arafat square in Ramallah on the West Bank, waving flags and singing along to nationalist music to mark the occasion.

In his address, Abbas noted the symbolism of the date, the 65th anniversary of the UN partitioning what had been British-ruled Palestine into Jewish and Arab countries. In the decades that followed, the idea of an independent Palestine had often been in danger of disappearing but had been “miraculously” kept alive, he said.

The general assembly resolution had finally given legitimacy to Palestine, he said. “The general assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the state of Palestine.”

Israel and the US immediately condemned the resolution. The office of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, described Abbas’s speech as incitement and full of lies about Israel.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said: “Because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.”

The only way to a Palestinian state was through direct negotiations, he said.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, described the vote as “unfortunate and counterproductive”. She said: “Only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

Thursday’s resolution raises Palestine from being a “non-member observer entity” to a “non-member observer state”. The key is the final word, which confers UN legitimacy on Palestinian statehood and, while it cannot vote at the general assembly, it will enjoy other benefits, such as the chance to join international bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

While important, the resolution is limited, elevating Palestine only to the status of the Vatican, which until Thursday had been the only other non-member observer state. For Palestinians, the idea of an independent state bears little reality on the ground, given the degree of Israeli involvement in the West Bank and Gaza.

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, speaking after the vote, disputed that the resolution conferred statehood on Palestine. “Today’s grand announcements will soon fade and the Palestinians will wake up to realise that little in their lives has changed,” Rice said. “This resolution does not establish Palestine as a state.”

But the coalition against the vote was thin. Apart from Israel and the US, those voting against were Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

European countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland all voted yes. Britain and Germany both abstained, with Britain saying Abbas had failed to promise he would resume peace negotiations with Israel.

Some countries, especially in Europe, switched from abstention to support out of a feeling that Abbas needed to be bolstered after eight days of conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians earlier this month. An estimated 158 Palestinians died in Gaza, and six Israelis were killed.

The Israeli and US governments had put pressure on the Palestinians not to press the issue to a vote and threatened significant retaliation –  mainly in the form of punitive financial measures. They have since largely backtracked over the threats, concerned that withdrawal of major funding might undermine Abbas at a time when he is particularly vulnerable.

The prospect of the Palestinians applying to bodies such as the ICC is one of the main reasons for Israeli opposition, fearful that the Palestinians might try to launch a case over Jewish settlements on the West Bank or over military attacks on the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian officials say they have no immediate plans to do so but it remains a new and useful lever for the future.

The Obama administration, in an effort to try to persuade the Palestinians to drop the vote, sent deputy secretary of state Bill Burns to see Abbas on Wednesday. But Abbas turned down his pleas.

The US, Israel and Britain wanted the Palestinians to give explicit pledges they would not seek to join the ICC any time soon and also to resume peace negotiations with the Israelis that were abandoned in 2010 over a settlement expansion.

In Ramallah, hundreds watching on a television in the square cheered enthusiastically for Abbas as he denounced Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza.

When the Israeli ambassador began addressing the UN, the crowd in the square watching on a giant television screen began booing. Prosor’s speech was suddenly cut, and nationalist music fired up.

But the mood of the crowd did not appear to be that of people who thought they were marking a great national moment, or who had hope that the general assembly’s recognition of Palestinian statehood amounted to anything like the birth of a real country.

Israel suffers humiliating defeat at UN: Haaretz

Thursday’s UN vote was the international community’s warning light to Israel, as much as a show of support for the Palestinians. Germany, France, Britain, Italy and other friendly countries delivered messages to Israel with their votes – their patience with the occupation has worn off.

By  | Nov.30, 2012 | 2:17 AM |  79

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations Generally Assembly th UN.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations Generally Assembly at UN Headquarters, in New York, November 29, 2012. Photo by Reuters

Israel’s leaders competed with each other Thursday over who will utter the most disparaging remark about the Palestinian move in the United Nations. Never have so many press releases been issued over an event that they themselves characterized as meaningless.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon outdid his peers. “This day is the day of the historic rout of the Palestinians,” Ayalon declared in tones reminiscent of Iraq’s propaganda minister’s boasting victory over the Americans as tanks poured through the streets of Bagdad.

Thursday’s UN vote was the international community’s warning light to Israel, as much as a show of support for the Palestinians. Germany, France, Britain, Italy and other friendly countries delivered messages to Israel with their votes – their patience with the occupation of the West Bank has worn off, they have had enough of settlement construction and there’s no faith in Israeli declarations of hands outstretched in peace and a desire to advance toward a Palestinian state.

Israel’s collapse in the UN and humiliating diplomatic rout is the result of a consistent policy led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It began with his refusal to accept the two-state solution. His speech at Bar-Ilan University, to which he was dragged by American pressure, may have voiced his readiness for the establishment of a Palestinian state, but was never brought to the government for approval.

From then on Netanyahu ran away from any diplomatic initiative presented to him, refused to seriously debate the core issues of a permanent settlement, wasted time by raising excuses and preconditions, and avoided presenting the Palestinians and Western friends with an Israeli peace plan. Without a political initiative, Netanyahu was dragged – and with him the whole country – to the UN General Assembly vote like a sack through a market.

Netanyahu, who boasted of his achievements such as conscripting the world against the Iranian nuclear program and U.S. support for the operation in Gaza, failed to convince the Palestinians and international community that he is serious about the peace process. Most Western leaders do not believe him and blame him for the diplomatic deadlock.

Netanyahu’s claims the Palestinian victory in the UN is a symbolic event that will change nothing on the ground convince no one except for the writers at the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom (owned by Sheldon Adelson, Netanyahu’s staunch supporter). Anyone with eyes in his head can see the diplomatic failure from afar. Having sowed wind during the past four years, on Thursday he reaped a storm.

But Netanyahu’s diplomatic failure, as with all failures, will remain an orphan. The prime minister will not take responsibility, and neither will his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose incitement campaign against Abbas only pushed more and more countries to support the Palestinian move in the UN.

Lieberman, who presents his travel schedule and meetings as evidence that Israel is not isolated, has revealed that Israel’s standing in the world is not based on the number of frequent flyer points he has amassed.

The Netanyahu government has acted like a frog in a pot on a stove. For four years the water was warm and comfortable. But in a moment – Thursday at the UN General Assembly – the water boiled. By then it was already too late. Sadly, the next government will probably be even more extreme right-wing and cannot be expected to change direction.

Palestinians gather near an Israeli military tower at the Israeli separation barrier at the main entrance of the West Bank city of Bethlehem to watch the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN.
Palestinians gather near an Israeli military tower at the Israeli separation barrier at the main entrance of the West Bank city of Bethlehem to watch the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN.AFP
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Novemebr 29, 2012

EDITOR: Reviving the Two States solution?

In few hours the UN General Assembly will vote on the PA proposal to afford Palestine limited state status. In another context, this would be a useless measure – over the last five decades, Israel has done all it could to make such a solution impossible. If this vote was taken 40 years ago, it may have meant something. However, on the 65th anniversary of the UN fateful resolution 181, dividing Palestine, and almost a whole century after the Balfour declaration, it is right that the UN shall start undoing the great injustice of Resolution 181,  which enabled the Nakba and has been the source of Palestine’s woes. Israel, which has fought this new resolution tooth and nail, aided and abetted by its partner in war crimes the US,  has actually made the passage of the resolution a certainty by its criminal attack on Gaza in Mid November, hence achieving exactly the opposite of its intended effect. The fight against the passing of this Resolution by Israeli and US politicians, including the miserable Obama II, proves how out of touch with reality they all are. Even the war criminal Olmert, responsible for 1440 death in Gaza in January 2009, has seen fit to give his blessing to this Resolution, which should tell us exactly how unimportant it is in real terms. This Resolution has mainly a symbolic role, and as such, it will be passed today by a great majority. The main benefit will be Palestine status thus achieved, which will allow it to prosecute Israeli war crimes through the international bodies such as the ICC. This shall send a shiver down the spine of Israeli war criminals, such as Peres, Barak, Netanyahu, Olmert, Livni and Peretz, not to mention the vegetating Sharon, who is now beyond the reach of international justice. It will be interesting to see what use Palestine PA politicians will make of this new option.

In another development, it became known that Stevie Wonder has cancelled his concert in Los Angeles for the supporters of the IDF, responsible for too many war crimes to enumerate here.  How the supporter of ANC and the struggle against apartheid has found himself supporting the IDF is a question he can best answer… At least, he saw fit to cancel as the petitions started flying. BDS works OK, and we need to intensify it a hundred-fold!

Germany backtracks on Palestinian bid; Israeli official: ‘We lost Europe’: Haaretz

Hours before the UN General Assembly vote, Germany decides to abstain, instead of voting against; Netanyahu says the decision will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state.

By  | Nov.29, 2012 | 12:20 PM |  10

Palestinians attend a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah

Palestinians attend a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority’s U.N. observer status from “entity” to “non-member state,” Today. Photo by Reuters

Reuters

Benjamin Netanyahu and Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Jerusalem, September 9, 2012. Photo by Reuters

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people are enjoying sweeping support in the lead up to Thursday night’s vote at the UN General Assembly over whether to upgrade the Palestinians’ standing to non-member observer status. By Thursday morning Israel time, that support had turned into a full-on landslide, as more European nations decided to alter their positions, essentially leaving Israel to fend for itself.

Early Thursday morning, just hours before the vote — scheduled to take place around 11:00 P.M. (Israel time) — Germany changed its mind, deciding to abstain from voting rather than opposing the Palestinian initiative, as Israel had assumed it would.

“The decision wasn’t taken lightly,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. “Germany shares the goal for a Palestinian state. We have campaigned for this in many ways, but the recent decisive steps towards real statehood can only be the result of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” the German official said.

The UN General Assembly is expected to pass a historic resolution recognizing Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member observer state.

At least 150 countries are expected to vote in favor of the resolution. In opposing the resolution, Israel is likely to find itself isolated with the United States, Canada, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and possibly the Czech Republic – although sources at the Foreign Ministry said Germany’s decision would likely affect the Czech vote as well.

This, in effect, leaves Israel without any European country supporting it at the international forum. Officials in Israel said that Germany’s decision was influenced by Britain. “Britain’s dramatic reversal prompted the Germans to change their mind,” a Foreign Ministry official said. “We lost Europe. More than half of its countries will vote with the Palestinians, and the rest will abstain.”

Bulgaria and Romania, with whom Israel has held intensive discussions in the last day, have also backtracked on their positions, as both intend to abstain. Belgium, meanwhile announced Thursday morning that it will vote in favor of the Palestinians. Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders said his UN envoy will stress that his country urges the renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Speaking in Jerusalem hours before the vote, Prime Minister Netanyahu said the UN General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state “will not change anything on the ground.” Netanyahu denounced the international community and said that, “No matter how many fingers are raised against us, there is no power in the world that can force Israel to compromise on its security.”

Netanyahu said the decision will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state, but rather push it farther away. “Israel’s hand is outstretched in peace, but a Palestinian state will not be formed without recognition of Israel as the Jewish state,” the prime minister said.

“A Palestinian state will not rise without declaring an end to the conflict and without security arrangements that protect Israel’s citizens. None of these issues are mentioned in the UN General Assembly decision. These are just some of the reasons why we are rejecting the proposed resolution.”

Netanyahu added: “Peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations without preconditions between the parties, and not through unilateral decisions made at the UN. I suggest we not pay heed to the applause at the UN. I remember when Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza received international applause; we got applause and then rockets. Israel withdrew from Gaza and Iran went in. The same exact thing happened when we left Lebanon. As prime minister, I will not allow the growth of another Iranian terror base in Judea and Samaria – the heart of the country – just a kilometer outside of central Jerusalem.”

People gather in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on November 29, 2012.
People gather in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on November 29, 2012.AFP

 

Palestinians set to win statehood recognition in UN vote: Guardian

West Bank officials hope for more than 130 yes votes in 193-nation general assembly, despite US and Israeli opposition

 

Mahmoud Abbas and Ban Ki-moon

Mahmoud Abbas with the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

The UN general assembly is set to implicitly recognise a sovereign state of Palestine on Thursday despite threats by the US and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government.

A resolution to change the Palestinian Authority’s UN observer status from “entity” to “non-member state,” like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation general assembly. Israel, the US and a handful of other members plan to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has led the campaign to win support for the resolution, and more than a dozen European governments have offered him their support.

The US state department said on Wednesday that the deputy secretary of state, Bill Burns, made a last-ditch effort to get Abbas to reconsider. The Palestinians gave no sign they were turning back.

Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, said on Wednesday that the US believed the Palestinian move was misguided and efforts should focus instead on reviving the stalled Middle East peace process. “The path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York,” she said. “The only way to get a lasting solution is to commence direct negotiations.”

A state department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, reiterated US warnings that the move could lead to a reduction of economic support for the Palestinians. The Israelis have said they might take significant deductions out of monthly transfers of duties that Israel collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.

Granting Palestinians the title of “non-member observer state” falls short of full UN membership, something the Palestinians failed to achieve last year. But it would allow them access to the international criminal court and some other international bodies, should they choose to join them.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation official, told a news conference in Ramallah that “the Palestinians can’t be blackmailed all the time with money”.

“If Israel wants to destabilise the whole region, it can,” she said. “We are talking to the Arab world about their support, if Israel responds with financial measures, and the EU has indicated they will not stop their support to us.”

Peace talks have been stalled for two years, mainly over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have expanded despite being deemed illegal by most of the world. In their draft resolution, the Palestinians have pledged to relaunch the peace process immediately following the UN vote.

As there is little doubt about how the US will vote, the PA has been concentrating its efforts on lobbying wealthy European states, diplomats say. With strong support from the developing world that makes up the majority of UN members, the Palestinian resolution is virtually assured of securing more than the requisite simple majority.

Abbas has been trying to amass as many European votes in favour as possible. As of Wednesday afternoon, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland had all pledged to support the resolution. Britain said it was prepared to vote yes, but only if the Palestinians fulfilled certain conditions.

Diplomats said the Czech Republic was expected to vote against the move, although other Europeans might join it. Germany said it could not support the Palestinian resolution, but left open the question of whether it would abstain, like Estonia and Lithuania, or vote no with the Czechs.

Ashrawi said the positive responses from European states were encouraging and sent a message of hope to all Palestinians. “This constitutes a historical turning point and opportunity for the world to rectify a grave historical injustice that the Palestinians have undergone since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948,” she said.

A strong backing from European nations could make it awkward for Israel to implement harsh retaliatory measures. Diplomats say Israel wants to avoid antagonising Europe. But Israel’s reaction might not be so measured if the Palestinians seek ICC action against Israel on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity or other crimes the court would have jurisdiction over.

Israel also seems wary of weakening the western-backed Abbas, especially after the political boost rival Hamas received from recent solidarity visits to Gaza by senior officials from Egypt, Qatar and Tunisia. Hamas militants, who control Gaza and have had icy relations with the PA in the West Bank, unexpectedly offered Abbas their support this week.

One western diplomat said the Palestinian move was almost an insult to the US president, Barack Obama. “It’s not the best way to convince Mr Obama to have a more positive approach toward the peace process,” a western diplomat planning to vote for the Palestinian resolution said. “Three weeks after his election, it’s basically a slap in the face.”

On November 29 Israel should vote for two states: Haaretz

An Israel that opposes the UN resolution is an Israel that wants to strengthen Hamas and a return of terror.

By  | Nov.29, 2012 | 1:27 AM

The writer Amos Oz recalls that day, 65 years ago, in his novel “A Tale of Love and Darkness”: “On Saturday morning, they said, the General Assembly would convene at a place called Lake Success and there they would determine our fate. ‘Who is for life and who for destruction,’ said Mr. Abramski.”

Abramski was right. If he were alive today, he would have similar things to say about want will happen tonight in the UN General Assembly. Who is for life and who for destruction. If Israel was a wise and reasonable country, it would have to join the family of nations this evening, not including Micronesia, and vote proudly for the completion of the previous vote on November 29: two states for two peoples. And if there were a real peace camp in Israel, its members would flock en masse to the tiny rally being held in front of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, where this State of Israel was declared.

But Israel, as usual, says no. First, hurling childish threats, with unparalleled chutzpah, bullying and condescension: we’ll punish the Palestinian Authority; we’ll hit it in its pocket; we’ll build 3,000 apartments in the settlements. And now, in a weaker voice, we’re “lowering our profile.” And no is still no.

When Israel says no, what does it mean? That the talk of two states is one big fraud; that it simply doesn’t want peace; that the world can go jump in a lake; that the Palestinians are forbidden to fight for their freedom, either with weapons or with diplomacy; no to Hamas and no to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. No, and no. Jerusalem’s thousand nos.

Israel will say no tonight, not just to the Palestinians, but to the whole world, except its patron, the United States, which will apparently humiliate itself again and draw even more hatred by voting automatically with Israel. Most Israelis will not even ask themselves how we reached the point at which the entire world really is against us; whether, perhaps, Israel has some part in it, to which voting against the resolution will only add.

“The automatic majority,” as Israel disparagingly calls the sane majority in the United Nations, will vote for recognition of Palestine as a nonmember state. Because that is the right and necessary step to take; Israeli propagandizing word play will not help. “A unilateral step,” Israel, in its temerity, calls it, while Israel builds more and more settlements in a step that is anything but multilateral. “A breach of the Oslo Accords,” Israel accuses, although Israel never met its obligation for the “third phase,” which was to have transferred most of the West Bank to Palestinian control 15 years ago.

An Israel that opposes the UN resolution is an Israel that wants to strengthen Hamas and a return of terror. There is no other way to explain its intransigence. But of all its baseless and foolish reasons for its opposition, one stands out: the danger that, after their change of status in the UN, the Palestinians will supposedly appeal to the International Criminal Court in The Hague regarding the war crime of moving the population of the occupying state into the occupied territories.

What exactly is Israel afraid of? After all, Retired Justice Edmond Levy will make it alright. In fact, he already has: the committee he headed has already determined that there is no occupation at all and the settlements are completely kosher. And so what is there to fear? Could it be that despite the acclaimed Levy report, there is something to worry about? After all, the International Criminal Court fights war crimes and is esteemed by the whole world. On the contrary, let Israel send retired Justice Levy to that court to present Israel’s justified and persuasive arguments.

Mr. Abramski is long dead. So is Mrs. Tosia Krochmal, the neighbor of the young Amos on Amos Street in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kerem Avraham who, 65 years ago, brought the extension cord from the sewing machine in her husband’s doll hospital to the Lembergs’ house, so they could bring their heavy black radio out to their balcony, to hear the “voices of Lake Success.” This evening, no one will be listening to the radio. Israel will continue to bury its head in the sand, to disconnect from reality, to ignore the world, ignore justice and proclaim: No.

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November 22, 2012

 

BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS!


THE DAY AFTER…

EDITOR: Where do we stand now?

After eight days of brital bombing of gaza, over 160 dead, over 1000 wounded, hundreds of houses flattened, roads uporooted, schools, offices, banks destroyed, and untold misery inflicted, where is the conflict finding itself? Where is Netanyahu and hius partners in crime? Let us go back a few months…

Summer 2011 has seen the most incredible scenes in Israel, the only non-Arab country in the Middle East. With The Arab Spring raging in most Arab countries with various degrees of success, Israel has experienced its own Social justice protest, on an unprecedented scale. Almost 500,000 people have marched through Israel on a number of key occasions, demanding a ling list of social reforms. Netanyahu used the well tried methods of killing social protest in Israel – he has called for elections, and like Olmert before him, went to war.

But this was a different time. Olmert went to war in the days of the Pharaoh Mubarak, while Netanyahu’s war is happening after the Arab Spring has changed Egypt. Partly he went to war to test Egypt, especially in the face ofa future attack on Iran. Partly he went to war to test Obama II, now that Obama is not so shackled to AIPAC for his re-election. On both counts he seemed to have miscalculated, like he did before when he put his money on Romney. So what is the result for him? It is clear that as far as Hamas is concerned, it won this round, against the mighty Israeli army, like Hizbollah has won in Lebanon in 2006.

On the face of it, Netanyahu has won. Over 90% of Jewish Israelis have supported the criminal massacre in Gaza, as they have done in 2008/9. But at the end of the day, when they return home, the old problems are still there, with a vengeance. Nothing has improved since summer 2011, but many things have got much worse, and the criminal war on Gaza has now exacerbated the social problems facing Israelis. Most Israeli Jews went to protest social inequalities, totally failing to see the biggest one – the brutal occupation. This also means that currently, there is no realistic solution to Israel’s social strife.

How will Israelis face Netanyahu, the man who said he will save them, and who has returned the bombs and missiles to the heart of Tel Aviv? How will they be able to support his ultra-nationalism and war-mongering, when it so clearly failed to deliver them security and social stability? How will they be able to ignore the simple truths they sang out in 2011?

The next few months will answer these queries. My own feeling is that Netanyahu will suffer for his attack on Gaza. No, not because he has killed so many Palestinians, but because, according to the Israeli public, he has not killed enough… becuase he agreed to the ceasefire, which 70% of the Israeli public was against, and because he called the reserves to Gaza, and then has not used them! Israeli society is sick, and the medicine for it is more killing, it seems.

I hope this reading is wrong, and that the social protest will start again, this time including the end of the occupation in its list of demands. But I also know this is not possible, and that the disease has struck at the heart of Israel’s social structure, and that fascism is rife as is extreme racism. In that sense, Netanyahu and Barak will reap what they sewed. What this means for Palestine only god knows, and as I am an atheist, I have no line to her…

Below I have included some of the Day After reactions in Haaretz. They obviously do not reopresent my views, as above.

Despite Gaza suffering, Hamas’ status is on the rise: Haaretz

Day after in GazaHamas declared victory after Cast Lead, but did not manage to convince the general public in the Gaza Strip. This time, however, even those who aren’t supporters of the organization respect its political achievement.
By Amira Hass     | Nov.22, 2012

Palestinian militants of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, on a truck, Gaza Strip, October 18, 2012. Photo by AP

Amira Hass

It’s natural that each of the two clashing sides would claim to be the winner in the cease-fire. Considering the balance of fatalities and the dimensions of the destruction, it’s clear who won – and there are those who are still making those cynical calculations, while blurring the large number of Palestinian women and children counted among the dead and wounded.

But if “victory” is measured by the support each side has for its leadership, apparently it can be said that the trophy indeed went to Hamas.

To the disappointment of many Israelis, there was no ground attack, and the cease-fire was achieved before the rocket launchers in Gaza showed signs of exhaustion.

This contrasts with the Palestinians in Gaza, who support the cease-fire – and not only because of the mark left by the IDF assault and the fear that the number of dead will continue to rise exponentially.

After Operation Cast Lead, Hamas also declared victory but then it did not succeed in convincing the general public in Gaza. ‘Another victory like this one and it will be possible to see Beit Hanoun from Rafah,” people joked bitterly, referring to the huge devastation the IDF left behind.

People also noticed that Hamas’ promise of surprises then, made before and during the ground attack, were empty boasting. Four years ago, too, Hamas demanded the lifting of the draconian blockade and the opening of the Rafah crossing point to free passage of goods and people – and failed.

What began at that time to crack the Israeli position and transform Gaza into an issue that doesn’t leave the international agenda was the shock at seeing the scenes of the attack along with the international solidarity, the height of which was the Mavi Marmara flotilla.

This time, even those who are not supporters of Hamas admire the political achievement manifested in the military surprises Hamas had up its sleeve. The ability to continue firing even under the intensive attack indicated the planning prowess of the movement, and its ability to learn from its mistakes.

The Palestinians saw not only heroism in the continuous firing of all kinds of rockets, but also identified long-term thinking in Hamas – a characteristic that many believe is lacking in the rival Fatah movement, especially since it became a corrupt ruling movement.

Thus, an important aspect in the Hamas victory is the clear strengthening of its standing among the Palestinians. It is not certain that Fatah would do well to insist on holding general elections for the Legislative Council in the near future.

Clearly, long-term thinking would not have helped Hamas had the Muslim Brotherhood not come into power in Egypt. However, part of the confidence that characterized Hamas in its move against the rule of the Palestinian Authority was the expectation of a popular Islamic uprising in the Muslim space.

In the Palestine Liberation Organization, they always say the Palestinian issue is central to the stability and peace in the region, if not in the whole world – but the organization has left this claim to the mercies of events over which it has no control.

Hamas relied on the bottomless capacity of suffering among the Gazans in particular while maneuvering the Gaza Strip as a separate entity that would open up to the Arab and Muslim world. As part of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is doing two things today: It is both returning the Palestinian issue to the center international attention and it is behaving like a regional power whose abilities and opinion have to be taken into account.

Winners and losers of Israel-Hamas cease-fire: haaretz

It is premature to assess whether the cease-fire is good or bad for Israel, but the winners and losers are already clear.
By Anshel Pfeffer     | Nov.22, 2012

An Israeli soldier stands atop a tank near the border with the Gaza Strip, November 17, 2012. Photo by Reuters

It would be a bit premature to assess whether the yet-to-be-signed agreement with Hamas is good or bad for Israel or whether it will guarantee a lengthy period of calm for the residents of the south. The cease-fire is still fragile and the next few days will be crucial. However, it is possible to point out at this stage some winners and losers.

Winners

The immediate winners from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision on Wednesday to accept the cease-fire terms and call off a possible ground incursion into Gaza are both the civilians and combatants in Israel and Gaza whose lives have been saved by the conclusion of Operation Pillar of Defense. I open this list with them because it is important to remember that while we are speaking of winners and losers, this is not a football game.

Mohammed Morsi: Not long ago, U.S. President Barack Obama shamed Egypt’s new leadership when he publicly said that the country was neither America’s enemy nor its ally. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was seen as an oddball fanatic to be tolerated as long as he did not step out of line.

This week, Obama called Morsi three times a day, urging him to broker a cease-fire and now the administration can’t praise him enough. And it’s not just the United States; even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman publicly thanked Morsi at the press conference in which the cease-fire was announced on Wednesday night.

This was the week in which Morsi cemented his position, not just as the leader of the largest Arab nation, but also as a regional statesman. He hasn’t undergone a Zionist conversion and he still denounces “Israeli aggression,” but he knew he was acting in Egypt’s best interests when he made do with a limited diplomatic protest to Israel’s operation in Gaza and offered his services as a mediator. How Morsi uses his new role is up to him now. He also now has to deal with the unpleasant duty of being guarantor of the peace in Gaza.

Hamas’ political leadership: Even if the cease-fire agreement garnered them only part of their original demands, Hamas’ civilian leaders will be seen as having squeezed concessions out of Israel for the benefit of ordinary Gazans. The agreement is further de-facto recognition by Israel and the international community of Hamas’ government in Gaza. With Ahmed Jabari dead, Hamas’ civilian leaders also have one less rival in the behind-the-scenes power struggle going on within Hamas and these leaders’ deepening alliance with the new regime in Cairo strengthens their position.

The Defense Ministry’s Research and Development: The research and development directorate of the Defense Ministry had to battle the Israel Defense Forces General Staff to find funding for the Iron Dome system and was the target of a vicious smear campaign financed by defense companies that were passed over for the missile-defense contract. However, the Defense Ministry’s approval of the Iron Dome system has been vindicated by the 400 successful rocket and missile interceptions that have occurred in the past eight days. It wasn’t only their selection of the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems system, but the entire concept of defense as a component of Israel’s tactical and strategic deterrence that was validated. It is a classic “Revenge of the Nerds” scenario that has major ramifications besides saving lives and preventing damage to property. This will strengthen the Israel Defense Forces’ technological branches’ efforts to secure a larger share of the defense budget at the expense of more tanks and combat jets, changing the way Israel will fight its future wars.

Ehud Barak: From his point of view, Operation Pillar of Defense could not have turned out any better. It was a swift military success for Israel that for once didn’t get bogged down or lead to a diplomatic setback. Swift and sophisticated is how Defense Minister Ehud Barak likes to do things and it will most likely attract voters seeking an experienced centrist in the upcoming elections. Barak is much closer now to ensuring that he stays around both in the next Knesset and as defense minister.

Losers

Benjamin Netanyahu: While Israeli pundits not usually among the prime minister’s fans complimented him on the measured way he conducted this operation and for ending it when he did, these are not his voters. Some commentators, mainly in the international press, have accused Netanyahu of launching the operation to help him in the upcoming elections, but chances are that he will lose votes from some of his more right-wing supporters who are exasperated with him for not going all the way in Gaza. Habayit Hayehudi’s Naftali Bennett, who throughout the operation called for a ground offensive, stands to gain these voters’ support.

Hamas’ military leadership: For over a decade the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades have relied on their primitive and inaccurate missiles to enforce a balance of terror against Israel, especially since the Shin Bet security service succeeded in breaking the back of the West Bank cells that produced suicide bombings. Now – with their arsenal depleted and Israeli towns relatively safe behind the Iron Dome – they have to come up with a new tactic and find a different Israeli weak spot. On Wednesday night they were firing in the air and rejoicing in the streets of Gaza, but in the cold light of day, Hamas’ military leaders know that they have not only lost their head, they have lost much of their leverage over Israel and their rivals in Hamas’ political wing.

Mahmoud Abbas: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both briefly visited the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in Ramallah, but it was clear they were there only out of a sense of duty. Abbas still plans to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations next week but his thunder has been stolen by the other Palestinian leadership in Gaza. Hamas are the ones sitting in Morsi’s office and it is with them that Israel is holding meaningful – albeit indirect – negotiations. Abbas is as irrelevant as ever. Little wonder that the protests in the West Bank this week were directed as much against him as much as against Israeli occupation.

Barack Obama: The Gaza operation overshadowed Obama’s first foreign trip since winning re-election, including his historic visit to Burma. The fact that he had to urgently send Hillary Clinton off to the region and not to a football game was a reminder of how the Middle East has a tendency to suck in presidents. Obama is hoping to “pivot to Asia,” but he has found that the United States is still needed elsewhere.

To Gaza I did not go: Haaretz

I am a little journalist who partially misappropriates his role and betrays his mission. I run around the south, between the sites of destruction and traumatized residents, but to Gaza I do not go.
By Gideon Levy     | Nov.22, 2012

I am a little journalist who partially misappropriates his role and betrays his mission. Granted, I do run around the south, between the sites of destruction and traumatized residents. On hearing a siren I lay on the ground and cover my head with my hands, or find dubious refuge in some children’s clothes shop. I even gaze at Gaza from the highest hilltop in Sderot, but to Gaza I do not go, about its suffering I do not report. And as it is with me, so it is with every Israeli journalist.

The last time I was in Gaza was in November 2008. I reported then on an Israeli missile that hit the children of the Indira Gandhi nursery and killed their kindergarten teacher in front of their eyes. That was my last story from Gaza. Since then Israel has banned Israeli journalists from entering the Strip, and the journalists accepted this with typical obedience and subservience. Over the years they turned out to be the most loyal (and admired ) public servants: They know the beast’s soul. They know that their readers and viewers don’t want to know what is really happening in Gaza, and joyfully fulfill their desire. Not a word of protest from the journalists, whose government prevents them from filling their essential role.

Not that all are devoid of courage: The daring among them reported over the years from sites of war or natural disasters around the world. Heroes that they are, they were in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and even little me was in Sarajevo under a bombardment, in Japan when the earth shook and in Georgia went it went to war. The government of Israel did not express any self-righteous concern for our well-being, and we fulfilled our role, even when it was dangerous. Not only in Gaza, an hour and a quarter’s drive from our homes, a place that affects our lives immeasurably more than Fukushima.

During Operation Cast Lead, my colleague Amira Hass managed to get into Gaza via Egypt, thanks to her dedication, determination and second passport. This time no one even tried.

That’s how it is that Israel knows almost nothing about what is happening in Gaza. Somebody is making sure of that. The terrible killing of the Dalou family, for example, was covered as lip service to professional journalism, at the sidelines of the newspapers and news broadcasts. There is almost no tangible expression in the Israeli media of the destruction and death that Israel has sown and the great fear gripping one and a half million residents for a week, without a reinforced safety room, without Code Red alerts and without a shelter. They suffice with short, dry reports at the edges of the news. Occasionally, they bring some Ahmed or other on the line, and every report from there is accompanied by the words “according to Palestinians,” with hypocritical accusations that “the Palestinians are making use of photos of the horror,” as if this is the story and not the horror itself.

The issue has nothing to do with political outlooks, only with professional journalism: Israelis should know what is done in their name, even they really, really don’t want to know. That’s the role of journalism. Of course, the suffering in the south should be widely reported – I do it also – but we must not close our eyes to what is happening on the other side, even if it’s not nice to see a house blown up with all its residents.

Whoever wants to know these days what is happening in Gaza is invited to watch the international networks and read the newspapers of the world: Only there will they bring you the full story. Israel, and some of its journalists, will tell you that it’s hostile, slanderous and distorted journalism. They only want you to see Ashkelon and Rishon Letzion.

One needs to know what is happening in Gaza in order to know what is happening in Israel. Journalism that fails to do so, and doesn’t even protest, is conscripted hasbara. It’s nice when a military correspondent in a yellow helmet climbs onto a firefighters’ crane to show us the destruction of an apartment block; we can even somehow live with a military propagandist-commentator who only grunts for war. But reading out text messages from the authorities is not journalism. A real Israeli journalist should have been in Gaza right now. Without this, and with the negligible coverage from there, we are all little journalists.

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November 21, 2012

EDITOR: Now there is little chance for a ceasefire, of course, as Netanyahu must prove he can kill more than Olmert!

So Netanyahu took the advice of the fascist Lieberman, and refused the ceasefire, while he could. Now the whole shebang is down the drain, with massive loss of life in Gaza certain to follow. When Israel is angry, is is the most vindictive of all countries, trying to emulate its mad and angry god, the God of Hosts, which in Hebrew, is of course the God of Armies. Growing up with a crazed and vindictive god is a difficult childhood, and it leaves its marks on the whole people, who grew up, crazed, vindictive and racist to boot, so that the other is justa Goy, and it is not just OK to kill him/her, but it is a Mitzvah for some. Many Jewish intellectuals have noticed this. A good example is Yehuda Bauer, a Zionist historian of the Holocaust:

“Am I to understand that you think Israel could commit genocide on the Palestinian people?” asked one young educator, somewhat taken aback. “Yes,” answered Bauer. “Just two days ago, extremist settlers passed out flyers to rid Arabs from this land. Ethnic cleansing results in mass killing.”

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/bauer-it-could-happen-here-1.17910

In his interview, he connects this tendency to the nature of the culture and religion they are part of. Of course, this is a matter of interpretation, say some, but the interpretation taken by most Israelis is indeed the one pointed out by Bauer. Only few days back, Israel’s Minister Eli Yishai has advised Netanyahu to “send Gaza to the Middle Ages” and a friend of his, Rabbi Yosefa, the son of the ex-Chief Rabbi, advised the government to “learn from the Syrians how to kill”! Once Rabbis are advising the government on how to kill more people, this becomes the fodder of anti-Semites. If Israel has been feeding anti-Semitism for decades, what it does now is even worse, and Jews all around the world may well pay for this crazed attitude.

How is it possible to stop this snowball? The only people who can, Obama  and Clinton, will not dare to do it, as we well know. Who knows what the next days are bringing us.

EDITOR: The statement refused by the Guardian, Independent and NYTimes:

The statement below was sent to the titles above, but none has decided to print it. Judge for yourself if the statement and the people who signed it merit silencing!

A Letter on Gaza: COUNTERPUNCH

The World Cannot Stand by as Palestine is Battered to Death
by COUNTERPUNCH NEWS WIRE
We the undersigned watch with horror yet another ruthless and criminal Israeli  assault on the defenceless people of the Gaza Strip. The assassination of the  Hamas’ military commander, Ahmad al-Jabari, by Israel was intended to disrupt any chance for a permanent cease fire between the two sides and caused the current cycle of  violence. For the last five years al-Jabari had been responsible for limiting rocket attacks on Israel.

The inaction of the Western governments is further proof of their indifference to their electorates’ wish to stop Israel from perpetrating yet another massacre against the Palestinian people.

We call upon our governments, which have stood aloof and indifferent, in the face of Palestine’s  dispossession and colonization since 1948 to take immediate and effective action. No other people in the world has been subjected, for more than sixty years, to such relentless acts of collective punishment and military brutality as have the Palestinian people.

We call for the removal of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the free movement of people and goods in and out of the region and a total cessation of lethal attack from the air, land and sea, against a helpless civilian population in one of the most densely-populated areas in the world.

The world cannot stand by when Palestine is once more battered to death.

1.           Professor Judith Butler (California, US)
2.          Professor Etienne Balibar (London and Paris)
3.          Ms Ahdaf Sueif (London and Cairo)
4.          Mr Moris Farhi MBE (London, UK)
5.          Professor Ilan Pappe (Exeter, UK)
6.          Professor Nur Masalha (London, UK)
7.          Professor Haim Bresheeth (London, UK)
8.          Professor Yehuda Shenhav (Tel Aviv, Israel)
9.          Mr Tariq Ali (London, UK)
10.        Professor Yosefa Loshitzky (London, UK)
11.        Professor Daniel Boyarin (Berkeley, US)
12.        Prof Alison Phipps (Glasgow, Scotland)
13.        Professor Nahla Abdo (Ottawa, Canada)
14.        Ms Josephine W. Finn (Maynooth, Ireland)
15.        Professor Peter Mayo (Malta)
16.        Professor Rebecca Kay (Glasgow, Scotland)
17.        Professor Rachel Giora (Tel Aviv, Israel)
18.        Professor Gabi Piterberg (Los Angeles, US)
19.        Professor Raid Zaghal (Al-Quds/Jerusalem, Palestine)
20.        Mr Michael Rosen (London, UK)
21.        Professor Steven Rose (London, UK)
22.        Professor Hilary Rose (London, UK)
23.        Professor Oren Ben-Dor (Southampton, UK)
24.        Dr Karma Nabulsi (Oxford, UK)
25.        Dr Yonat Nitzan-Green (Israel)
26.        Mr Ali Abunimah (Chicago, US)
27.        Dr Terri Ginsberg (New York, US)
28.        Dr Ghada Karmi (London, UK)
29.        Professor Peter McLaren (Los Angeles, US)
30.        Professor Yousef Najajreh (Al-Quds/Jerusalem, Palestine)
31.        Ms Najwa Silwadi (Al-Quds/Jerusalem, Palestine)
32.        Dr Ibrahim Makkawi (Birzeit, Palestine)
33.        Professor Rashmi Luther (Ottawa, Canada)
34.        Professor Antonia Darder (Los Angeles, US)
35.        Professor Anne Ryan (Maynooth, Ireland)
36.        Dr Michelle Attard Tonna (Floriana, Malta)
37.        Dr. Maria Pisani (Malta)
38.        Professor Nurith Peled-Elhanan (Jerusalem, Israel)
39.        Keith Hammond (Glasgow, Scotland)
40.        Dr. Claudia Secci (Cagliari, Italy)
41.        Dr Adrian Grima (Malta)
42.        Mr Tariq Ali (London, UK)
43.        Dr Maud Anne Bracke (Glasgow, Scotland)
44.        Dr Tom Hickey (Brighton, UK)
45.        Dr Michele  Marseglia (Italy)
46.        Mr Michael Kenny (Maynooth, Ireland)
47.        Professor Asma Imam (Al-Quds/Jerusalem, Palestine)
48.        Professor Lorene Figueiredo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
49.        Professor Malcolm H. Levitt (Southampton, UK)
50.        Dr Suleiman Sharkh (Southampton, UK)
51.        Dr David Cromwell (Southampton, Uk)
52.        Mr Tariq Goddard (Wiltshire, UK)
53.        Professor Marcos Del Roio (Marilia, Brazil)
54.        Prof. Hasan H. Aksoy (Ankara, Turkey)
55.        Ms. Carmen Freitas  (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
56.        Professor Walber Meirelles (Ladeira, Brazil)
57.        Dr Dorit Naaman (Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
58.        Dr Annie Pfingst (London, UK)
59.        Professor Socrates Stratis (Nicosia, Cyprus)
60.        Professor Brian Winston (Lincoln, UK)
61.        Ms Anna Sherbany (London UK)
62.        Professor Moshe Machover (London, UK)
63.        Dr Roger van Zwanenberg (London, UK)
64.        Mr Mike Cushman (London, UK)
65.        Dr. Julian Vigo (London, UK)
66.        Professor Jonathan Rosenhead (London, UK)
67.        Professor Daya Thussu (London, UK)
68.        Dr Brian Robinson (Milton Keynes, UK)
69.        Mr Abe Hayeem (London, UK)
70.        Ms Rosamine Hayeem (London, UK)
71.        Professor Ronit Lentin (Dublin, Ireland)
72.        Ms Deborah Maccoby (London, UK)
73.        Professor James Bowen (Cork, Ireland)
74.        The Hon. Dr Jocelynne A. Scutt (Cambridge/Melbourne, UK and Australia)
75.        Dr Brid Connolly (Maynooth, Ireland))
76.        Dr Yana Bland Mintoff (Malta)
77.        Dr Andre Mazawi (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
78.        Professor Emilios Christodoulidis (Glasgow, Scotland)
79.        Professor Daiva Stasiulis (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
80.        Dr Claudia Prestel (Leicester, UK)
81.        Professor Nadje Al-Ali (London, UK)
82.        Dr Michael Murray (Maynooth, Ireland)
83.        Professor Margaret Ledwith (Lancaster, UK)
84.        Professor Gary Craig (Durham, UK)
85.        Mr Tony Walsh (Maynooth, Ireland)
86.        Dr Nicoletta Vallorani (Milan, Italy)
87.        Dr Lizzie Eldridge (Malta)
88.        Mr Roger Gordon (North Tyneside. UK)
89.        Dr Bernie Grummell (Maynooth)
90.        Dr Sue Blackwell (Birmingham, UK)
91.        Dr Willem Meijs (Hoorn, The Netherlands)
92.        Ms Aisha Phoenix, London (UK)
93.        Ms Enid Gordon (North Tyneside, UK)
94.        Professor Peter Gose (Ottawa, Canada)
95.        Ms Pragna Patel (London, UK)
96.        Professor Derek Boothman (Bologna (Italy)
97.        Mr Eyal Sivan (Paris, France)
98.        Dr Adania Shibli (Palestine)
99.        Professor Eyal Weizman (London, UK)
100.    Dr Fatieh Saudi (London, UK)
101.    Professor Jeffrey Skoller (Berkley, US)
102.    Professor Stephen Deutsch (Bournemouth, UK)
103.    Mr Firas Asidy (London, UK)
104.    Professor Ali Nobil Ahmad (Lahore, Pakistan)
105.    Professor Corinne Squire (London, UK)
106.    Ms Zahraa Tatari London, UK)
107.    Professor Annabelle Sreberny (London, UK)
108.     Dr Marta Rabikowska (London, UK)
109.    Professor Nira Yuval-Davis (London, UK)
110.    Ms Ruth Tenne (London, UK)
111.    Dr Azzam Tamimi (London, UK)
112.    Ms Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi (London, UK)
113.    Mr Keith Piper (London, UK)
114.    Professor Maurizio S. Viano (Boston, US)
115.    Professor Anne Phoenix (London, UK)
116.    Professor Michael Chanan (London, UK)
117.    Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska (London, UK)
118.    Professor Chris Berry (London, UK)
119.    Mr Bisan Abu Eisheh (London, UK)
120.    Professor  Abby Lippman (Montreal Quebec, Canada)
121.    Mr Sid Shniad (Canada)
122.    Dr Stephanie Cronin (Oxford, UK)
123.    Mr Richard Kuper (London, UK)
124.    Professor Flavia Laviosa (Wellesley, US)
125.    Ms Mira Khazzam (Montreal, Canada)
126.    Dr May Jayyusi (Ramallah, Palestine)
127.    Professor Sarah Bracke (Leuven, Belgium)
128.    Dr Nadia Fadil (Leuven, Belgium)
129.    Dr Seda Gurses (Leuven, Belgium)
130.    Professor Laura Mulvey (London UK)
131.    Mr Ronnie Barkan (Tel-Aviv, Israel)
132.    Mr Bob Reckman (Northampton, MA US)
133.    Professor Hagit Borer (London, UK)
134.    Professor Joan Braderman (Northampton, MA, US)
135.    Professor Laura Marks (Vancouver, Canada)

136. Professor Sean Cubitt (London, UK)

137. Professor Dina Iordanova (St. Andrews, Scotland)

Israel’s scorched earth policy in Gaza could prove fatal: Al Jazeera English

The US and other western governments have failed to publicly criticise Israel for its iron-fist policy on Palestine.
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2012

The death toll in Gaza within the past week has already reached over one hundred [AFP]
The recent Israeli pounding on Gaza reminds us of the brutal Gaza invasion in 2009 that resulted “in between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths (four from friendly fire)”. The human toll and the destruction of the infrastructure in Gaza nearly five years ago still reverberates. The current bombing spate by the Netanyahu government from the air and sea is again turning Gaza into rubble.This, according to the Israeli government, is in response to hundreds of rockets fired at Israel by Hamas from Gaza, that has created fear amongst the Israeli population and claimed three Israeli lives. But this is asymmetric warfare: The death toll in Gaza has already crossed 100, including many women and children.Israel says it is only targeting selective targets with “surgical precision”. But its claims are not substantiated by facts: The majority of victims are innocent civilians. Despite some pressures from America and Britain, Israel is massing its troops near Gaza; a ground invasion seems possible.The Gazan people’s back has been to the wall for some time; they have been subjected to inhumane conditions under almost total siege by Israel for some years – something considered illegal under international humanitarian law.According to a UN report, Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?, “Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ in 2008-09 ’caused a total of US$181 million in direct and US$88 million in longer-term costs for Gaza’s agriculture; generated about 600,000 tonnes of rubble and US$ 44 million in environmental costs.”

Follow the latest developments in the ongoing conflict 

The trauma it created is irreparable and the conditions are dismal. As late as 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron termed Gaza as a prison camp and the former US President, Jimmy Carter, called Gaza a prison.

Atmosphere of despair

Beyond Gaza, the situation in historic Palestine is not much different. Israeli land grabbing, illegal settlements and ethnic cleansing in occupied territories, forced removal of families from their homes, the increasing refugee problems, massive unemployment, daily humiliation of Palestinian people in the crossings, the erection of the “apartheid wall” – have all created an atmosphere of despair.

As in its 2009 operation, Israel is trying to match its overwhelming military might with its superior media outreach in the western world. As a result, and due to what seems to be America’s depressingly unquestioned support for Israel, many in the West buy in to the Israeli narrative claiming Hamas as a “terrorist” organisation.

Sadly, people have a short memory. They forget that Hamas, for all its flaws, formed the legitimate Palestinian government after winning an internationally-accepted election in 2006 (but they were conveniently dumped by the US and other western governments).

The fear of being accused as anti-Semitic has inhibited many in the West from publicly criticising Israel’s historic injustice to the Palestinians. Some try to be ambivalent; in order to prove their neutrality, the only thing they do is offer some advice to Israeli and Palestinian politicians to sort out the mess on the negation table.

However, an overwhelming majority of people in the Muslim world and many in Asia, Africa and Latin America consider Israel a Pariah state, supported by the world’s sole superpower, the United States. Many consider Israel as a Goliath when it comes to the Palestinian people.

The US and other western governments have failed to publicly criticise Israel for its iron-fist policy on Palestine. That has made them incapable of becoming honest peace-brokers between the two sides. The so called “road map for peace“, initiated by the US in 2002, was rejected by Israel and did not see the light of the day.

The recent call from some western leaders for a “de-escalation” of the crisis by asking Hamas to stop firing the rockets and pleading with Israel not to wreck “international support” only shows impotence. There is a clear lack of leadership from western leaders, particularly the US administration.

Military might

Israel has massive political and military might and the Israeli leadership is also known to be politically smarter than the Arab leaders. Israel has become a garrison state with conventional and weapons of mass destruction that include nuclear bombs (although not publicly acknowledged). It has the unconditional backing of the largest military power on earth. This has blinded Israel’s judgment and made it arrogant.

But in the greater scheme of things, the Israeli leadership lacks strategic wisdom that is needed for its future. With all its military, diplomatic and media advantage, time is not on Israel’s side. History also teaches us that the days of injustice do not last long.

The Palestinian people may be underdogs now, but people with insight can see they are the ones who are setting the future agenda. Whatever Hamas is doing – out of madness, desperation or a long-term strategy – Israel seems to be falling in their trap of an un-winnable, long and protracted war.

The Israeli strength so far has lain with the disunity and incompetence of the Arab regimes. But things are changing within the Arab world, as we all know. Plus the tectonic plate of world economic power is shifting towards the East; with it the global political and military power may change at some time in the future.

During the 2009 Gaza crisis, two prominent Muslim countries – Turkey and Egypt – carried little weight in the world. Now they are trying to assert their rightful place. Their position on the Arab-Israeli conflict is now clearer. For the first time in many decades, the world attention has focused on Egypt. Whether its President Morsi succeeds in bringing the two sides to a ceasefire agreement will be interesting to see, but a new chapter seems to be dawning in the Middle East.

A just and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is not only essential for Israeli and Palestinian people, but also for the whole world. This needs a clear “thinking outside the box” by the Israeli leadership and their backers in America. And it must come soon.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is the former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (2006-10). He is an educationalist, community activist and parenting consultant. He is a founding member of The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO) and currently Chairman of the East London Mosque Trust. 

Follow him on Twitter: @MAbdulBari

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On one side you’ve got three generations of a family wiped out. On the other, a woman’s got to ring Autoglass. And we act like this is battle whose fate is in the balance

Tuesday 20 November 2012

To start with, why do the news channels ask Tony Blair for his advice on conflict in the Middle East? It’s like asking Gary Glitter for advice on what to do about Jimmy Savile.

But somehow it fits with the rest of the coverage. A report yesterday morning began with the sentence: “Rockets have continued to be fired from both sides…” Then, to illustrate this, we saw a demolished building in Gaza in which 11 people had perished, and a woman in Israel standing next to her car with a smashed windscreen. Which goes to show everyone’s suffering, what with three generations of a family getting wiped out on one side, and a woman having to ring Autoglass on the other. Honestly, they’re all as bad as each other.

By tomorrow, a spokesman for Israel will be on the news channels saying: “No other country would put up with this. We have citizens worried about losing no claims bonuses. If we don’t flatten their cities, what will we have to put up with next? Broken wing mirrors? Dents in passenger doors? Have you tried getting body repairs in Tel Aviv at short notice? So we have no choice but to destroy a hospital.”

Then we’ll see the funeral for the Palestinians, followed by the car owner wailing “O my beautiful laminated darling” as her windscreen gets tipped into a bin.

The reason so many get killed, says Benjamin Netanyahu, is that Hamas “hides behind civilians”. Because it’s the duty of anyone who gets assassinated to make sure they’re in a clear, open space at all times so the cruise missile aimed at them doesn’t bump into anyone else. That’s basic health and safety, that is.

But Hamas have become even more cunning in this conflict, because the commander the Israelis were aiming at in the building in which those 11 civilians were killed wasn’t there at all. At least if he’d bothered to be where the Israelis thought he was, the civilians would have died for a reason. Now, because he had the cheek to NOT hide behind civilians, they’ve been killed for nothing. There’s no end to their devilish methods is there?

But some Israelis are working for a solution. For example ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s son, Gilad, wrote in The Jerusalem Post: “To accomplish victory, you need to achieve what the other side can’t bear. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”

Even if they did drop a nuclear bomb, Netanyahu would say: “The reason so many were killed is Hamas hid Gaza behind its civilians. If they’d moved Gaza to somewhere safe like Greenland, the population would hardly notice a thing, but, as usual, Hamas cared only about propaganda.”

Then The Jerusalem Post would report “We’ve done Gaza a huge favour. Now none of their vehicles can move, so they’re spared the misery of trying to repair a broken windscreen.”

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November 20, 2012

Israel demands our support because it fights its ‘war against terrorists’ in our name: Independent

We westerners set the precedent when it comes to “collateral damage”, now the Israelis are reeling out the same tired excuses

Enough is enough. Now we have even “National Infrastructure” Minister Uzi Landau – one of my favourite dogsbodies in the Israeli government – talking about “collateral damage” and the justification for bombing Hamas’s broadcasting station. It could be used for transmitting military instructions, he said.

But wasn’t that exactly what our own beloved Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara – now, I suppose, Lord Blair of the Holy Land – said after Nato bombed the Serb television station in Belgrade, when Nato, too, was blathering on about “collateral damage”?

We Westerners set the precedents in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq – trains, bridges, TV stations, wedding parties, blocks of civilian apartments, you name it – and now the Israelis can trot along behind and produce, whenever necessary, the same tired list of excuses we invented for Nato.

It’s odd, the way they all get away with it. Lord Blair, whose 92 Business Class trips to the Holy Land have produced a peace beyond all peace, is now talking about how it’s in everybody’s interest to have a truce – is his face getting a bit skeletal, or is that my imagination? – and a truce, I suppose, we shall have, well over 100 Palestinian and three Israeli dead too late. But is it all worth it? Was the murder by Israel of Hamas’s military leader Ahmed al-Jabari in fact not staged to provide an excuse to bomb all those new missiles that Hamas has acquired?

That wise old Israeli owl Uri Avneri – he is 89 years old – thinks this is just the trap that Hamas fell into by launching its preposterous “Gates of Hell” rocket attacks in revenge for Jabari’s death. The whole Operation “Pillar of Defence” was about destroying Hamas’s weapons – not about the largely ineffective missiles themselves.

Isn’t this why Israel gave its operation the name it did? For, despite our constant repetition of “Operation Pillar of Defence”, Israeli friends tell me that the correct Hebrew translation of this sick war is Operation Pillar of Cloud. Which makes a lot more sense. For this comes from the Book of Exodus (13:21) – “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way.”

I wonder, indeed, if the ridiculous William Hague realised he was doing God’s work when he gave his support to this bloodletting?

But this leads me to another little matter. One of the new Israeli lines on the war runs like this. Israel kills “terrorists” by the score along with a handful of “collateral damage” innocents – and the world rages against Israel. Yet isn’t the Syrian regime killing Syrian innocents by the thousand every month? Where are the mass protests, the venting of wrath at Bashar al-Assad? What hypocrisy! But of course, this is in itself a hypocrisy. We know the old “Hama rules” of Syria; no one asks us to support them. And comparing Israel’s brutality to that of the Assad regime is playing the old Lord Blair game: we weren’t perfect in Iraq – but we weren’t as bad as Saddam.

No. Israel claims to hold the same values as the supposedly moral West. It says that it is fighting “terrorism” in our name as well as its own. It says it is fighting like us. It is playing by our Western rules. We are all Israelis now; that is what we are meant to say. Hamas is our enemy, as well as Israel’s. And so – for this is the effect – we too must be contaminated by the war crimes of Israel’s pilots. That, I believe, is why we protest against Israel. Operation Pillar of Cloud must not be committed in our name.

Hope of truce in Gaza possible but vague: Al Jazeera English

Hamas says a truce deal will go into effect on Tuesday, but Israeli officials have yet to confirm.
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2012 19:22
A Hamas official has said that An Egyptian-negotiated ceasefire in the week-long Gaza conflict will go into effect on Tuesday.”An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 o’clock (1900 GMT) and go into effect at midnight (2200 GMT),” Hamas official Ayman Taha told Reuters news agency from Cairo.There was no immediate Israeli comment on the Hamas statement or on the prospect of a ceasefire, although an Israeli spokesperson has said the deal is not quite finalised.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is en route to the region and is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste, reporting from Cairo, said that it is best to approach the news with caution.

“It’s one thing for this agreement to be signed, it’s quite another for it to be implemented,” said Greste.

“But here’s what we do understand is to be contained in this agreement: Firstly, that Israel has agreed to stop targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders. Secondly, that Hamas has agreed to stop firing rockets over the border into Israel,” said Greste.

“Thridly, that the border restrictions into Gaza will be eased, but we don’t know quite what that means – we don’t know what restrictions will be lifted.”

He added that Egypt would be the guarantor of the agreement.

The terms of the truce, first hinted at by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, have not yet been disclosed. Egypt has been trying to negotiate a ceasefire with the help of Qatar and Turkey.

Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Jerusalem, said that Israeli media outlets have been quoting unnamed officials who say that Clinton will announce a ceasefire agreement negotiated by the US, Egyptian and the European Union.

“This kind of goes along with what we’ve heard coming out of Cairo, with the newly-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, hinting to journalists that a ceasefire is imminent,” said El-Shamayleh.

US President Barack Obama called on Morsi for the third time in 24 hours on Tuesday to “commended” his efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, the White House said.

“He commended President Morsi’s efforts to pursue a de-escalation” in the Gaza Strip, said Ben Rhodes deputy national security advisor.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has arrived in Israel to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He will also meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the crisis.

‘Regrettably, I’m back again in the region only nine months since my last visit, because of violence in Israel and Gaza…the world is extremely concerned at the rising loss of human lives,” said Ban.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ban met the Arab League chief, Nabil el-Araby, in Cairo and called for support for Morsi’s efforts to mediate a truce in the conflict.

A delegation of nine Arab ministers, led by Mohamed Amr, Egyptian foreign minister, visited Gaza in a further signal of heightened Arab solidarity with the Palestinians.

El-Araby said that a ceasefire is not the the real issue facing Gaza.

“The real problem is not a truce. The real problem that the Arab and Islamic countries and all friendly countries in the world must focus on is ending the occupation,” said el-Araby.

The Israeli military has struck more than 1,350 targets in Gaza since attacks began on Wednesday. Since then, 640 rockets have hit Israel while more than 300 others have been intercepted by Israel’s anti-missile system.

Over 120 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, with 920 injured. Three Israeli civilians and one Israeli soliders have been killed in the conflict that has also left dozens of Israelis injured. have been injured.

Israel’s Media Joins the War: TRN

Israel’s media rallies support for war as politicians jump on bandwagon for attack ahead of elections.

Watch full multipart The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

Precis

Alongside the military assault on Gaza, the Israeli army has a adopted a new media strategy which has influenced coverage of the war in the Israeli press. Unlike in Operation Cast Lead four years ago, this time Israel decided to allow journalists into the Gaza strip, and has streamlined its process of delivering material from the battlefield to the press conference. The Israeli media has adopted the government’s line that only military targets are being hit regardless of the rising Palestinian casualty toll, reported at 115 on Monday night. The Real News’ Lia Tarachanky summarizes the coverage of Operation Pillar of Defense in the Israeli press, quotes Editor-in-Chief of Ha’aretz Aluf Benn, and speaks to Michael Omer-Man, the Head of the Newsdesk at Jerusalem Post Online. Omer-Man is also the author of the analysis and news blog Notes from a Conflicted Land

by Carlos Latuff

EDITOR: Some hope for an early ceasefire

It seems that even the Israeli leaders are at last realising that a ground offensive will be a deadly mistake. One hopes the international pressure will bring them to a ceasefire today, but there is no telling with such war criminals. As their deluded Jewish population supports the murders with over 90% showing, they can afford to go on killing. Lert us hope it all ends today, but for how long, no one can say.

In the meantime, protest around the globe is spreading like bushfire. Below is one example – the Students at SOAS have occupied in support of Palestine!

SOAS OCCUPATION FOR GAZA: INITIAL PRESS RELEASE

SOAS students today occupied their university in solidarity with the people of Gaza. This followed an overwhelming vote of support at a packed union general meeting.

Over 100 Palestinians, including 24 children have been killed thus far over six days of Israeli bombing. The Israeli Interior Ministry has declared its intent to “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages” and continues to threaten a ground invasion.

The unjustifiable comments made by the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague that Hamas are principally at fault for the current violence, and the British government’s deplorable record on defending Palestinian rights demonstrates our government’s tacit support for Israeli aggression. In light of this, the SOAS occupation calls on all students in Britainr and the anti-war movement at large to take action in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

The primary demands of the occupation are that the SOAS Director, Paul Webley, condemn William Hague’s recent statements, implement an ethical investment policy, cultivate academic  partnerships with Gazan universities and that there be no repercussions for SOAS staff and students involved in the action.

The people of Gaza are not just numbers. They are people with families, aspirations and rights and we occupy to defend their right to live, and live in peace.

Nazis demonstrate in Tel Aviv, calling for the eradication of Gaza: YouTube

EDITOR: On November 15th, when a small left-wing demonstration stood in King George street in Tel Aviv, a large and vocal group of Nazis, followers of the MK Michael Ben-Ari, have called for the total destruction of Gaza. The MK, who is mad beyond description, has asked Netanyahu to remove Gaza from the map, and ‘bring’ thousands of dead Palestinians. Unfortunately, there is no subtitled version of this toxic video, so only Hebrew speakers can properly ‘enjoy’ it. Nonetheless, I suggest to you to view it, as I believe it is easy top understand, just by listening to the tone of the mob led by this criminal politician:

 

 

 

The Israeli attack on Gaza
Statement Arab Educational Institute
Bethlehem

Israel’s forces of occupation are attacking Gaza, kill civilians, terrorize children, women and elderly people, and destroy the infrastructure. The escalation goes on and rockets continue to be launched from Gaza.
The timing of the Israeli attacks seems to be no coincidence. They come before the Israeli elections. The local, regional and international circumstances are not positive. For more than 64 years the international community has been unable to stop Israeli attacks and has refused to implement the relevant UN resolutions and international laws that support the just cause of the Palestinians, and to reach a just peace.
We call on the UN to issue a resolution for an immediate ceasefire. At the same time, there is no way to get out of this terrible escalation unless, first, sanctions are imposed on Israel as long as international laws and human rights conventions are violated. Secondly, the Palestinians should come back to form a national unity government and take a unified political stand. Thirdly, it is necessary to put more pressure on the old and new Arab regimes to support the Palestinian people in their just national struggle to end the occupation and build a free democratic state with Jerusalem as its capital. The UN should send an international force to pave the way for an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories.
Let us all pray, raise our voices and put pressure on our leaders to come back to a real dialogue and end our internal division as a first step towards confronting the present challenges. May God help us all to take serious action in order to stop the ongoing atrocities against our people in Gaza.

We also appeal for immediate local as well as Arab and international humanitarian and financial support needed to support our people’s sumud or perseverance, in addition to the restoration of our human and material infrastructure.

Arab Educational Institute
19 November 2012
Bethlehem

Gaza crisis: Israel puts ground invasion ‘on hold’: BBC

Israel has put plans for a ground operation in Gaza “on hold” to give talks to secure a truce with Hamas militants a chance, officials say.

It is understood Israel has set a Thursday deadline for the Egypt-brokered talks to succeed.

The current conflict began last Wednesday when Israel killed Hamas’s military commander, saying it wanted to end rocket attacks on Israel.

More than 110 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed so far.

Israeli ministers met late into the night to discuss Egyptian truce proposals, as officials are due to restart talks in Cairo.

Israeli troops are massed along the border, raising fears of a ground offensive similar to that of 2008-09.

Jon Donnison
BBC News, Gaza City
In Gaza City this morning, the normally bustling and traffic filled streets are once again quiet. People are staying indoors following the news on TV and trying to keep safe.

On the city’s main tree line boulevard known to locals as “the Champs Elysee of Gaza” shops have their shutters down, closed for business. People are complaining of rising fuel and food prices.

Deep large craters can be seen, the product of almost a week of violence.

The constant sound of Israeli drones can be heard above. In Arabic they’re known as Zananna, literally “whining child”. For Gazans they’re an irritation but also a worry. Occasionally Israeli warplanes zoom overhead.

It feels quieter today with Israel’s attacks less intense. The relative quiet should continue during a short visit by Arab League foreign ministers today. The push for a ceasefire continues. Everyone in Gaza is asking if and when it will come.

However, Israeli officials say that any possible ground invasion of Gaza has been put on hold while the ceasefire talks continue.

A spokesman told the BBC that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had telephoned US President Barack Obama.

“Israel wants talks to succeed but we’re prepared to go into Gaza,” the spokesman said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due in Israel for crisis talks.

Mrs Clinton was to underline that “the best way to solve this is through diplomacy, so that you have a peaceful settlement that ends that rocket fire and allows for a broader calm in the region”, said Mr Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is debating a statement calling on both parties to stop attacks and address humanitarian needs in Gaza.

More explosions are being reported in Gaza – after a night during which the Israeli military said it had carried out about 100 strikes mainly on smuggling tunnels and underground rocket-launching facilities. Hamas officials say seven people were killed.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: “Families and children are dying as a result of senseless violence”
A father and his two sons – thought to be two and four – were killed overnight, Hamas health ministry officials said.

More than 60 rockets have been fired from Gaza toward Israel so far on Tuesday – some managed to get through Israel’s Iron Dome interception system, Israeli officials said.

One landed on a parked bus in Beersheba and a house in Ofakim. Later a soldier was “moderately wounded” from shrapnel in Eshkol, southern Israel, the army said.

Regional risk
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo on Tuesday.

“I’m here to appeal personally for an end to the violence and to offer my ongoing efforts to achieve a ceasefire. I’m also here to offer my heartfelt condolences to many civilians, especially to families of victims who were killed,” Mr Ban told a joint news conference.

He is due to travel to Israel later on Tuesday. Mr Ban warned against a ground operation in Gaza.

“Further escalating the situation will put the entire region at risk,” he said.

Egypt has been trying to broker a ceasefire with the help of Qatar and Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Arab foreign ministers are expected to visit Gaza on Tuesday.

The content of the Egyptian plan is not known, but both Israel and Hamas have presented conditions.

Israel’s demands include no hostile fire of any kind from Gaza and international efforts to prevent Hamas from rearming, while Hamas is demanding an end to the blockade on Gaza and “Israel’s assassinations”.

The search for a ceasefire is now urgent
The BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem says the Cairo talks – in which Egyptian intelligence officials are meeting separately delegations from Israel and Hamas – appear to be at a crucial stage.

It is the sequence of events involving the key measures of the plan, such as a cessation of attacks and easing the blockade on Gaza, that may prove a stumbling block, he adds.

Meanwhile, UN Security Council members have been debating a draft statement on Gaza and are awaiting a response from their governments.

On Monday, US President Obama spoke to his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Mursi and Mr Netanyahu, discussing ways to de-escalate the situation, the White House said.

Khaled Meshaal, political leader of the Islamist movement Hamas which controls Gaza, said that a truce was possible in Gaza – as was further escalation of the conflict.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning a decisive victory in general elections. Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005 but maintains a blockade around it.

Israel, as well as the United States and the European Union, regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

EDITOR: The resistance continues!

Despite the strongest army in the Middle East, despite the advanced technology, despite the 200,000 Israeli soldiers surrounding Gaza, and the thousands of advanced bombs raining on them, Gaza defenders continue to send their rockets to Israel. Of course, the rockets are primitive and do not pose a real danger to Israel, but their psychological effect may well assist in bringing about an early ceasefire!

Some 60 rockets fired into Israel; IDF soldier moderately woundedMosaic: Haaretz

Gaza militants renew rocket fire toward southern Israel; Palestinians report 5 killed and 10 wounded in IDF strikes in Gaza; Hamas, Islamic Jihad chiefs in Cairo to discuss details of possible cease-fire; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to come to Israel to discuss Gaza operation; top Israeli ministers decide to give more time for cease-fire efforts; IDF strikes 100 targets in Gaza overnight.
By Haaretz     | Nov.20, 2012

A mosaic of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock is seen intact on a wall of a house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City, on November 20, 2012. Photo by AFP

A decision on whether to launch a ground invasion of Gaza has been put off by at least a day, after Israel decided Monday to give the Egyptians more time to try to broker a cease-fire with Hamas, a senior Israeli official said.

The head of Hamas’ political bureau and Islamic Jihad secretary-general plan to meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Raafat Shehata again on Tuesday, in an attempt to finalize details of a cease-fire agreement. The talks in Cairo, which are being led by Shehata, are expected to be decisive. The Israeli delegates to the talks plan to return to Cairo today to present Israel’s response to demands being made by Hamas. Senior Egyptian officials told Haaretz that the sides are very close, but that some more flexibility is needed from the Israeli side.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are expected to arrive in Israel on Tuesday, where they will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

More than 60 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel on Tuesday morning. The Palestinians reported that five people were killed in the Strip on Tuesday morning.

Click here to continue reading “November 20, 2012″ »

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November 19, 2012

EDITOR: How long can the madness go on for?

With voices within Israel calling for a ceasefire, and with doubts even within the IDF about the ‘wisdom’ and ‘necessity’ of a ground offensive, the chances for an early end to this mad aggression may now be stronger. Israel is facing the truth of its predicament: It has gone to another murderous war against Gaza, with more than 200,000 soldiers awaiting their marching orders around Gaza, and apart from death and destruction, including in Israel, it has achieved exactly nothing. Security in southern Israel is shattered, Tel Aviv is panicked, but nothing ‘positive’ has been achieved.

In Gaza, more than a hundred people, including babies, children and pregnant women were killed. Before the new initiative by Qatar of rebuilding Gaza got under way, and just after some rebuilding of the 2009 damages, Israel has inflicted terrifying wanton damage again. Maybe the Israelis really believe in mindless violence – over 90% of the Jewish population of Israel, and similar numbers of Jews across the world are supporting the massacre. What this says about Jews and Israelis is terrifying in itself, and will no doubt bring about a growth of anti-Semitism in its wake. Do Israelis really think that they will get more security by more murders of civilians in Gaza? Do they really believe that they can suppress the Palestinian wish for freedom and peace by bombing? Apparently, this is indeed the case. If so, then the Middle East can prepare itself for the worst, and that is even without mentioning Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, and god only knows what else is being hatched in the sick brains of Barak, Netanyahu and Lieberman.

If this criminal madness was only the pattern in Israel, it would be very bad indeed, but the trouble is that the whole of the west is in hock to Israel, and has supported the atrocities without blinking, blaming Hamas, as usual. Until this changes, nothing else will.

As Israel assaults Gaza, BBC reporting assaults the truth: The Electronic Intifada

16 November 2012

BBC has shown deference to Israeli goverment line in its reporting on Gaza in recent days.

(Ashraf Amra /APA images)

In 2006, an independent panel of senior public figures published a report assessing the impartiality of the BBC’s coverage of the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The panel, chaired by Sir Quentin Thomas, a senior figure in the British Home Office, found “identifiable shortcomings, particularly in respect of gaps in coverage, analysis, context and perspective and in the consistent maintenance of the BBC’s own editorial standards.”

The Thomas Report, as it became known, was quickly shoved under the carpet by the BBC, even though it had originally been commissioned by the corporation’s own governors, and business continued as usual (“Report of the Independent Panel for the BBC Governors on Impartiality of BBC Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” April 2006, available on the Internet Archive).

In the last few days, the shortcomings highlighted in the report have never seemed so glaring.

Gaza reported without context

Across the BBC’s output, from the 24 hour rolling news channel, BBC News, to its flagship news and current affairs program Today on Radio 4, the Israeli assault on Gaza has been reported without context, without perspective and with a bias that has wholly favored the heavily-armed, nuclear state of Israel against the mostly refugee population of the besieged Gaza Strip.

This pattern of partiality was noted by Thomas and his panel. They made several mentions in their report to the “asymmetry of power between the two sides” and noted that “given this asymmetry, the BBC’s concern with balance gave an impression of equality between the two sides which was fundamentally, if unintentionally, misleading.”

To counter this flaw, the Thomas Report recommended that the BBC “should make purposive, and not merely reactive, efforts to explain the complexities of the conflict in the round, including the marked disparity between the position of the two sides.”

Yet, rather than providing information to its global audience which would make clear that Israel is deploying a vast arsenal of high tech armory against Gaza’s civilian population, to which the response is crude rockets, the BBC’s coverage of the past days has portrayed the stateless Palestinians as vicious aggressors against an exhausted Israel.

On the morning of 15 November, the day after Israel carried out the extrajudicial killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari and unleashed a wave of terror against Gaza’s civilian population, the BBC put an article onto its website headlined: “Gaza rocket arsenal problem for Israel.”

The article goes into minute detail about what the BBC’s diplomatic and defense correspondent Jonathan Marcus describes as “the Palestinian rocket arsenal.”

There are descriptions of the types of rockets in the “arsenal,” their range, their design, their country of origin, the threat they pose to Israel, the towns in Israel they might be capable of reaching. Marcus also spends time discussing the capability of Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense and Israeli allegations of shipments of arms coming via Sudan to Gaza.

Israeli arsenals unreported by the BBC

Nowhere in the article, or elsewhere on the BBC, does Marcus investigate Israel’s weapons stockpile, which is funded to the tune of $3 billion a year by the United States.

There are no reams of paragraphs devoted to describing the different types of bombs, mortar shells, drones, fighter jets, gunboats, tanks, guns, nuclear warheads or white phosphorus shells that are in Israel’s arsenal. Yet, with the exception of nuclear missiles, all of these have been used at some point against the people of Gaza with devastating consequences.

A second article published on the BBC website the same morning is headlined: “Escalating violence takes its toll on Israelis.” Here we have journalist Yolande Knell putting a human face on the Israelis who have faced rocket attacks in the towns of Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi over the last two days.

There are interviews with Israeli men and women describing their fear, their pain at the previous day’s fatalities in Kiryat Malachi, their scramble to find shelter when the air raid sirens sound and the damage to their buildings. Knell describes “eerily quiet” streets in Ashkelon, closed restaurants and schools and how “normal life here remains on hold.”

Minimizing Palestinian voices

Yet when it comes to how Palestinians in Gaza endure frequent Israeli bombardment, Palestinian voices and their pain are minimized.

A BBC article in March claimed the people of Gaza are “almost inured to the endless conflict” and life in the Gaza Strip carries on as normal — a report based on the perspective of BBC correspondent, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, rather than interviews with the Palestinians themselves.

When the Palestine Solidarity Campaign complained about the bias inherent in Wingfield-Hayes extraordinary claims, which were juxtaposed alongside an article by Kevin Connolly describing the “dread” felt by Israelis during rocket strikes, a reply was received from Fraser Steel, Head of Editorial Complaints at the BBC.

He wrote: “I have to say it seems to me that the aspects of the reports which you single out for criticism can be interpreted as evidence of bias only if one approaches them with a prior assumption of bias on the part of the authors.”

The bias that PSC was highlighting is not on the part of the authors, but on the part of their employers, the BBC, and with good reason.

Israeli spokespeople unchallenged

Since al-Jabari’s assassination on 14 November, the BBC has rolled out all the Israeli heavyweights across its programming: Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the UN;Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister; Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesperson; and Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to the UK.

All have been allowed to disseminate, with virtually no interruption or correction, the propaganda line Israel is using for the duration of this assault on Gaza: that Israel withdrew its settlers in 2005 in order to allow Gaza to live in peace but Hamas insisted on a war which Israel has so far resisted, but is now being reluctantly drawn into in order to protect its citizens.

On the Today program on 15 November, Taub was interviewed by BBC heavyweight John Humphrys. For four minutes he was allowed to expound Israel’s hasbara line that Hamas rockets rain down on southern Israel with no response from Israel and that no other country but Israel would be so understanding.

Humphrys gave no challenge when Taub said: “We have to recognize, seven years ago, we pulled out of every inch of Gaza. We removed 9,000 Israeli civilians along with their homes, their schools, their kindergartens, in order to try and have a peaceful situation with Gaza … Tragically, that opportunity was not taken up. Hamas took over and since then has been waging an intensive war.”

The BBC’s major evening current affairs program Newsnight was used as a vehicle for similar hasbara the previous evening by Danny Ayalon, who enjoyed an uninterrupted three minute interview with presenter Gavin Esler.

At the very end of the interview Ayalon said: “Not only do they [Hamas] target the civilian population in Israel, but they implant themselves in the midst of the civilian population in Gaza, so in fact they use a population as a human shield for their hideous attacks.”

To which Esler replied: “Ok, we’ll leave it there. Danny Ayalon, thank you very much.”

There was no attempt, or even it seems a willingness, by this senior BBC journalist to confront and challenge Israeli propaganda and falsehoods.

Meanwhile Zionist activist Jonathan Sacerdoti appeared four times as a guest on different BBC television news programs during the first two days of the Israeli assault. The BBC allowed him to pose as an independent expert, neglecting to mention his past work for the Zionist Federation and current role at the Board of Deputies of British Jews (“Who is Jonathan Sacerdoti, the BBC’s Go-To Man on Gaza?” New Left Project, 16 November).

BBC failure

The findings of the Thomas Report from 2006 are holding true during this latest onslaught on Gaza. This unwillingness by both Humphrys and Esler, together with the presenters on television and radio news, to point out the facts to their Israeli government interviewees is just a symptom of the BBC’s failure to provide context and perspective, as highlighted by the report.

And so BBC audiences listen to Regev and the rest without being made aware that Israel is considered by the UN to be an occupying power in Gaza with obligations under the Geneva Conventions to protect the inhabitants.

Taub is allowed to freely say that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, without being made to explain how he can make such a travesty of the truth when Israel holds Gaza under tight military siege, restricting access to food, medicines, water, fuel and other essentials, and restricts the free movement of Gaza’s people in and out of the territory.

Prosser can stand in Kiryat Malachi condemning Palestinian rocket attacks, as he did on the BBC News channel on 14 November, and not be asked to comment on Israel’s massacre of 1,400 Palestinians in three weeks in 2008-09 or its continuous bombing and shelling of Gaza since then.

And that is how Ayalon can barefacedly mislead BBC viewers with the human shield fallacy, because nowhere on the BBC, including Newsnight will its audience be told that 1.6 million people are crammed into a strip of land about 20 miles long and four miles wide, and consequently there is nowhere that is not inhabited.

In its final points, the Thomas Report summed up: “some of the deficiencies are serious and … [the BBC’s coverage] could be a great deal better: more distinctive, challenging and informative.”

If only it were. Imagine how many people around the world and those paying the licence fee in the UK would become aware of Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians, its daily violations of international law, its lies and deceits.

One presumes this is why the Thomas Report has rarely seen light of day since its publication.

Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available atwww.palestinecampaign.org.

Gaza conflict: family’s four children buried as bombardment continues: Guardian

Eight members of Dalou family – which had no known affiliation with any militant group – died in air strike on home

Dalou children's funeral

Palestinians carry the bodies of the Dalou children to their funeral in Gaza City. Photograph: Wissam Nassar/Xinhua Press/Corbis

The bodies of four children wrapped in Palestinian flags were carried above a huge crowd from the rubble of their home, destroyed in an Israeli air strike, to their graves on Monday amid mounting anger over the sharply rising toll of civilians in the six-day-old war in Gaza.

Bulldozers, which were clearing concrete and twisted metal from the site of the Dalou family’s home in the hope of finding two bodies still trapped beneath the ruins, stopped work to allow the funeral procession to pass.

“Do these children look like terrorists?” asked grief-stricken relatives and neighbours of the dead. Eight members of the Dalou family, including four children aged between one and seven, were killed when a missile struck their three-storey home at around 2.30pm on Sunday. Two family members are still missing, and two neighbours were also killed.

The funeral took place amid a heavy Hamas presence, although the family had no known affiliations with any militant group.

“There has been a drastic change since the beginning of this conflict,” said Hamdi Shaqqura of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza. “There is now a complete disregard for human life, shown by the attack on the Dalou family home in the middle of a residential area. This was not the home of a militant.”

According to the PCHR, there were 31 civilian deaths in the 24 hours to noon on Monday, whereas in the previous four days there had been a total of 27 civilian deaths. “There has definitely been a big acceleration,” said Shaqqura.

At least 18 children have been killed since the start of the conflict last Wednesday, and more than 600 civilians have been injured, he said. The Gaza health ministry said 24 children had been killed.

The total death toll in Gaza topped 100 on Monday following another day of intense bombardment. According to Ashraf al-Kidra of the Gaza ministry of health, the most recent victims included a child killed by flying shrapnel and five farmers. Elsewhere it was reported that a father and son were killed while the man was repairing a water tank on the roof of his home.

Israeli fighter planes targeted a high-rise building containing the offices and studios of local and international media organisations in the centre of Gaza City for a second time. Ramez Harb, the head of Islamic Jihad’s media operations, was killed and at least six were wounded.

Black smoke billowed from the building after it was struck by three missiles. Witnesses reported chaotic scenes as paramedics tried to reach the injured while firefighters tackled the blaze.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said the building was a “hideout” used by Islamic Jihad. In a statement it said: “The Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives, who were involved in firing rockets at Israel, were inside the media building when it was targeted.”

The IDF spokeswoman Avital Liebovich tweeted: “The presence of senior Islamic Jihad militants in media building in Gaza demonstrates the ongoing tactic of using civilian [buildings] as shield.”

The reason for the targeting of the Dalou family home remained unclear. Two Israeli papers reported that the IDF had targeted the wrong house, while a third said it was targeted in the belief that a Hamas militant was inside.

Neighbours told reporters that the Dalou family had no connections with militant organisations and that the father – who was not at home at the time of the air strike – owned a grocery shop.

Israeli intelligence tracks militants by their use of mobile phones, informants and evidence gathered by unarmed surveillance drones.

In the first two days of the offensive, Israel focused its firepower on military training grounds, rocket-launching sites and weapons stores. It has since turned to targeting the homes of militants, increasing the likelihood of killing civilians in the densely populated residential areas of Gaza City.

The IDF said it had struck 80 targets in Gaza on Monday. More than 120 rockets had been launched from Gaza, with 42 landing in Israel, it said. Three Israelis were slightly injured.

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November 18, 2012

EDITOR: The BBC has again supported Israel in its crimes!

For those of us who support the BBC as a crucial part of the public arena in the UK, now under attack by the Tory dogs of war, it has again become very difficult to defend an institution devoted to impartiality, taking Israel’s side on every turn of the road, on every news bulletin. The loses of the aggressor are always reported first, and those of the people under attack are glossed over or disregarded. The language and terminology comes out of the Israeli Hasbara guidebook, it seems, and the sentiments are all one sided. It makes sense for the national broadcaster of one aggressor nation in a war against Islam, to take the part of another aggressor nation against Islam, of course. It makes no sense for a public broadcaster with responsibility for truth and impartiality to do that, and we are all financing Auntie BBC and rightly feel we own it.

On Gaza, and on Palestine, the BBC does not speak for the people of Britain. It speaks for Israel and for the Tory-LibDem Coalition administration. One has to admit that the government of the war criminal Tony Blair was no better on Palestine, for the same reasons.

To remind you how horrible the BBC can be on Palestine, I suggest looking at this memorable and incredible clip of Tony Benn, the secular saint of British public life, during the 2009 massacre in Gaza, when the BBC has shamefully refused to broadcast the details of DEC Gaza appeal. Watch and wonder!

EDITOR: The Anonymous Collective Gives Israel a Red Card!

Gaza leader: Hamas will accept truce only if Israel guarantees no more attacks: Haaretz

Diplomats at the United Nations said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit Israel and Egypt in the coming week to push for an end to the fighting.
By Avi Issacharoff     | Nov.18, 2012

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Photo by AP

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Photo by AP
Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, told Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi over the weekend that he supported the efforts to mediate a temporary cease-fire with Israel.

The cease-fire must comprise a clear guarantee from Israel that it would not resume its attacks on Gaza, Haniyeh told Morsi in a telephone conversation.

The two leaders spoke after Egyptian intelligence officials met with Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled Meshal, and his deputy, Mussa Abu Marzouk.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told foreign leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, over the weekend that he was prepared for a comprehensive cease-fire in the Gaza Strip as soon as possible, if the rocket firing stops. The foreign leaders asked Netanyahu not to escalate the fighting and to give several days to the intensive mediation efforts Egypt has been leading during the course of the weekend.

In Cairo over the weekend, as the Egyptian security deputies sought to broker a truce with Hamas leaders, Morsi said that “there are some indications that there is a possibility of a cease-fire soon, but we do not yet have firm guarantees.”

Egypt has mediated previous cease-fire deals between Israel and Hamas, the latest of which unraveled with recent violence.

A Palestinian official told Reuters the truce discussions would continue in Cairo on Sunday, saying “there is hope,” but it was too early to say whether the efforts would succeed.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli official declined to comment on the negotiations. Military commanders said Israel was prepared to fight on to achieve a goal of halting rocket fire from Gaza, which has plagued Israeli towns since late 2000, when failed peace talks led to the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising.

Diplomats at the United Nations said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit Israel and Egypt in the coming week to push for an end to the fighting.

“Send Gaza Back to the Middle Ages” by Carlos Latuff

 

EDITOR: The Gaza massacre 2012 in pictures from across the world

This current brutal massacre by Israel has started a wave of angry creativity across the globe, and I include here a tiny selection of the images now flying across the international screens:

Gaza: four children killed in single Israeli air strike: Guardian

Attack believed to be aimed at Hamas official increases death toll of military offensive to 67 people

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
A Palestinian man kisses the hand of a dead relative in the Shifa hospital morgue in Gaza City on day five of the Israeli bombardment. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP
At least 11 members of one family, including five women and four children, were killed when Israel bombed a house in Gaza City on Sunday as the five-day-old war claimed more civilian lives with no sign of a letup in the intense bombardment.

The air strike flattened the home of the Dalou family in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City, causing the biggest death toll in a single incident since the offensive began last Wednesday.

The bodies of the children were pulled from the rubble and taken to the morgue at the Shifa hospital. The dead also included an 80-year-old woman.

Ismael Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, described the deaths as an “ugly massacre” and its military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, said: “The massacre of the Dalou family will not pass without punishment.”

by Steve Bell, The Guardian, November 17

Diggers at the scene of the explosion were scooping rubble from flattened buildings as rescuers tried to locate survivors.

Witnesses said there were chaotic scenes as the dead and injured were brought to the Shifa hospital, which has been on emergency footing since the start of Operation Pillar of Defence.

The bodies of four young children lay on two metal trays in the morgue, covered in dust and blood. A crowd of onlookers outside became increasingly distressed as the body of the children’s mother was wheeled in, covered in blankets.

The strike was believed to be aimed at a Hamas official, Mohamed Dalou.

A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces said the military could not confirm the target but said “senior operatives affiliated with rocket fire” were being pinpointed.

A Gaza health official, Ashraf al-Kidra, said the military offensive had claimed the lives of 67 people by sunset on Sunday, including 32 civilians. Three Israelis were killed by a rocket fired from Gaza last Thursday. After an overnight lull in rocket fire from Gaza, Hamas and other groups renewed their attacks on Sunday. Sirens were activated in Tel Aviv for the third day running. Israel Army Radio reported that two rockets fired at the city were shot down by Iron Dome defence system.

The tactic of targeting militants’ homes carries the risk of further high casualties in the densely populated areas of Gaza’s main cities. Many militants have moved their families to safer areas before going into hiding themselves. The Israeli military has also expanded the scope of its targets to take in Hamas-run government offices and compounds.

Some families living near militants or government buildings are leaving their homes to move in with relatives in signs of increasing internal displacement within the small and crowded Gaza Strip.

Israel claims it is carrying out “surgical strikes” and is making strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties. “It is our intention to avoid what is called collateral damage,” Moshe Yaalon, minister for strategic affairs, told a press conference in Jerusalem. “We operate slowly, identify the target and clean the area around it,” he added, referring to warnings issued via dropped leaflets and text messages to civilians to stay away from individuals and locations likely to be targeted.

“But when they use civilians as human shields, what is our choice?” he said. “If they position rockets in densely populated areas, such as mosques and schoolyards, we should not be blamed for the outcome.”

The World Health Organisation warned that Gaza’s medical facilities were being overwhelmed as the number of people injured in air strikes topped 400, about one-third of whom are children.

“Many of those injured have been admitted to hospitals with severe burns, injuries from collapsing buildings and head injuries,” the WHO said in a statement issued in Geneva. The UN body appealed for $10m (£6.3m) in immediate international support to help them cope with the casualties.

Sunday’s death toll came after a night of heavy bombardment, including repeated and intensive fire from gunboats stationed off the Gaza coast.

Two buildings housing media organisations were struck in the early hours, injuring eight Palestinian journalists including a cameraman who lost a leg.

The al-Shawa building, which includes the studios of al-Quds television, which is associated with Islamic Jihad, and the al-Shuruq building, housing Sky News, al-Arabiya news network, Dubai TV and an office of al-Aqsa TV, which is affiliated with Hamas, were hit.

In a statement, the Israeli Defence Forces said: “A communications antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the state of Israel, was … targeted.” The IDF denied that journalists were targeted.

Israel opened the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza briefly to allow humanitarian aid to enter and 26 patients and their families to leave for medical treatment.

Jonathan Cook: Why Gaza must suffer again: IOA

By Jonathan Cook – 18 Nov 2012

The four guilty parties behind Israel’s attack

A short interview broadcast by CNN late last week featuring two participants – a Palestinian in Gaza and an Israeli within range of the rocket attacks – did not follow the usual script.

For once, a media outlet dropped its role as gatekeeper, there to mediate and therefore impair our understanding of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians, and inadvertently became a simple window on real events.

The usual aim of such “balance” interviews relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is twofold: to reassure the audience that both sides of the story are being presented fairly; and to dissipate potential outrage at the deaths of Palestinian civilians by giving equal time to the suffering of Israelis.

But the deeper function of such coverage in relation to Gaza, given the media’s assumption that Israeli bombs are simply a reaction to Hamas terror, is to redirect the audience’s anger exclusively towards Hamas. In this way, Hamas is made implicitly responsible for the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians.

The dramatic conclusion to CNN’s interview appears, however, to have otherwise trumped normal journalistic considerations.

The pre-recorded interview via Skype opened with Mohammed Sulaiman in Gaza. From what looked like a cramped room, presumably serving as a bomb shelter, he spoke of how he was too afraid to step outside his home. Throughout the interview, we could hear the muffled sound of bombs exploding in the near-distance. Mohammed occasionally glanced nervously to his side.

The other interviewee, Nissim Nahoom, an Israeli official in Ashkelon, also spoke of his family’s terror, arguing that it was no different from that of Gazans. Except in one respect, he hastened to add: things were worse for Israelis because they had to live with the knowledge that Hamas rockets were intended to harm civilians, unlike the precision missiles and bombs Israel dropped on Gaza.

The interview returned to Mohammed. As he started to speak, the bombing grew much louder. He pressed on, saying he would not be silenced by what was taking place outside. The interviewer, Isha Sesay, interrupted – seemingly unsure of what she was hearing – to inquire about the noise.

Then, with an irony that Mohammed could not have appreciated as he spoke, he began to say he refused to be drawn into a comparison about whose suffering was worse when an enormous explosion threw him from his chair and severed the internet connection. Switching back to the studio, Sesay reassured viewers that Mohammed had not been hurt.

The bombs, however, spoke more eloquently than either Mohammed or Nissim.

If Mohammed had had more time, he might have been able to challenge Nissim’s point about Israelis’ greater fears as well as pointing to another important difference between his and his Israeli interlocutor’s respective plights.

The far greater accuracy of Israel’s weaponry in no way confers peace of mind. The fact is that a Palestinian civilian in Gaza is in far more danger of being killed or injured by one of Israel’s precision armaments than an Israeli is by one of the more primitive rockets being launched out of Gaza.

In Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09, three Israelis were killed by rocket attacks, and six soldiers died in fighting. In Gaza, meanwhile, nearly 1,400 Palestinians were killed, of whom at least 1,000 were not involved in hostilities, according to the Israeli group B’Tselem. Many, if not most, of those civilians were killed by so-called precision bombs and missiles.

If Israelis like Nissim really believe they have to endure greater suffering because the Palestinians lack accurate weapons, then maybe they should start lobbying Washington to distribute its military hardware more equitably, so that the Palestinians can receive the same allocations of military aid and armaments as Israel.

Or alternatively, they could lobby their own government to allow Iran and Hizbullah to bring into Gaza more sophisticated technology than can currently be smuggled in via the tunnels.

The other difference is that, unlike Nissim and his family, most people in Gaza have nowhere else to flee. And the reason that they must live under the rain of bombs in one of the most densely populated areas on earth is because Israel – and to a lesser extent Egypt – has sealed the borders to create a prison for them.

Israel has denied Gaza a port, control of its airspace and the right of its inhabitants to move to the other Palestinian territory recognised by the Oslo accords, the West Bank. It is not, as Israel’s supporters allege, that Hamas is hiding among Palestinian civilians; rather, Israel has forced Palestinian civilians to live in a tiny strip of land that Israel turned into a war zone.

So who is chiefly to blame for the escalation that currently threatens the nearly two million inhabitants of Gaza? Though Hamas’ hands are not entirely clean, there are culprits far more responsible than the Palestinian militants.

First culprit: The state of Israel

The inciting cause of the latest confrontation between Israel and Hamas has little to do with the firing of rockets, whether by Hamas or the other Palestinian factions.

The conflict predates the rockets – and even the creation of Hamas – by decades. It is the legacy of Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians in 1948, forcing many of them from their homes in what is now Israel into the tiny Gaza Strip. That original injustice has been compounded by the occupation Israel has not only failed to end but has actually intensified in recent years with its relentless siege of the small strip of territory.

Israel has been progressively choking the life out of Gaza, destroying its economy, periodically wrecking its infrastructure, denying its inhabitants freedom of movement and leaving its population immiserated.

One only needs to look at the restrictions on Gazans’ access to their own sea. Here we are not considering their right to use their own coast to leave and enter their territory, simply their right to use their own waters to feed themselves. According to one provision of the Oslo accords, Gaza was given fishing rights up to 20 miles off its shore. Israel has slowly whittled that down to just three miles, with Israeli navy vessels firing on fishing boats even inside that paltry limit.

Palestinians in Gaza are entitled to struggle for their right to live and prosper. That struggle is a form of self-defence – not aggression – against occupation, oppression, colonialism and imperialism.

Second culprit: Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak

The Israeli prime minister and defence minister have taken a direct and personal hand, above and beyond Israel’s wider role in enforcing the occupation, in escalating the violence.

Israel and its supporters always make it their first priority when Israel launches a new war of aggression to obscure the timeline of events as a way to cloud responsibility. The media willingly regurgitates such efforts at misdirection.

In reality, Israel engineered a confrontation to provide the pretext for a “retaliatory” attack, just as it did four years earlier in Operation Cast Lead. Then Israel broke a six-month ceasefire agreed with Hamas by staging a raid into Gaza that killed six Hamas members.

This time, on 8 November, Israel achieved the same end by invading Gaza again, on this occasion following a two-week lull in tensions. A 13-year-old boy out playing football was killed by an Israeli bullet.

Tit-for-tat violence over the following days resulted in the injury of eight Israelis, including four soldiers, and the deaths of five Palestinian civilians, and the wounding of dozens more in Gaza.

On November 12, as part of efforts to calm things down, the Palestinian militant factions agreed a truce that held two days – until Israel broke it by assassinating Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. The rockets out of Gaza that followed these various Israeli provocations have been misrepresented as the casus belli.

But if Netanyahu and Barak are responsible for creating the immediate pretext for an attack on Gaza, they are also criminally negligent for failing to pursue an opportunity to secure a much longer truce with Hamas.

We now know, thanks to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, that in the period leading up to Jabari’s execution Egypt had been working to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas. Jabari was apparently eager to agree to it.

Baskin, who was intimately involved in the talks, was a credible conduit between Israel and Hamas because he had played a key role last year in getting Jabari to sign off on a prisoner exchange that led to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Baskin noted in the Haaretz newspaper that Jabari’s assassination “killed the possibility of achieving a truce and also the Egyptian mediators’ ability to function.”

The peace activist had already met Barak to alert him to the truce, but it seems the defence minister and Netanyahu had more pressing concerns than ending the tensions between Israel and Hamas.

What could have been more important than finding a mechanism for saving lives, on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Baskin offers a clue: “Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters, but to my regret they will get more votes because of this.”

It seems Israel’s general election, due in January, was uppermost in the minds of Netanyahu and Barak.

A lesson learnt by Israeli leaders over recent years, as Baskin notes, is that wars are vote-winners solely for the right wing. That should be clear to no one more than Netanyahu. He has twice before become prime minister on the back of wars waged by his more “moderate” political opponents as they faced elections.

Shimon Peres, a dove by no standard except a peculiar Israeli one, launched an attack on Lebanon, Operation Grapes of Wrath, that cost him the election in 1996. And centrists Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni again helped Netanyahu to victory by attacking Gaza in late 2008.

Israelis, it seems, prefer a leader who does not bother to wrap a velvet glove around his iron fist.

Netanyahu was already forging ahead in the polls before he minted Operation Pillar of Defence. But the electoral fortunes of Ehud Barak, sometimes described as Netanyahu’s political Siamese twin and a military mentor to Netanyahu from their commando days together, have been looking grim indeed.

Barak desperately needed a military rather than a political campaign to boost his standing and get his renegade Independence party across the electoral threshold and into the Israeli parliament. It seems Netanyahu, thinking he had little to lose himself from an operation in Gaza, may have been willing to oblige.

Third culprit: The Israeli army

Israel’s army has become addicted to two doctrines it calls the “deterrence principle” and its “qualitative military edge”. Both are fancy ways of saying that, like some mafia heavy, the Israeli army wants to be sure it alone can “whack” its enemies. Deterrence, in Israeli parlance, does not refer to a balance of fear but Israel’s exclusive right to use terror.

The amassing of rockets by Hamas, therefore, violates the Israeli army’s own sense of propriety, just as Hizbullah’s stockpiling does further north. Israel wants its neighbouring enemies to have no ability to resist its dictates.

Doubtless the army was only too ready to back Netanyahu and Barak’s electioneering if it also provided an opportunity to clean out some of Hamas’ rocket arsenal.

But there is another strategic reason why the Israeli army has been chomping at the bit to crack down on Hamas again.

Haaretz’s two chief military correspondents explained the logic of the army’s position last week, shortly after Israel killed Jabari. They reported: “For a long time now Israel has been pursuing a policy of containment in the Gaza Strip, limiting its response to the prolonged effort on the part of Hamas to dictate new rules of the game surrounding the fence, mainly in its attempt to prevent the entry of the IDF into the ‘perimeter,’ the strip of a few hundred meters wide to the west of the fence.”

In short, Hamas has angered Israeli commanders by refusing to sit quietly while the army treats large areas of Gaza as its playground and enters at will.

Israel has created what it terms a “buffer zone” inside the fence around Gaza, often up to a kilometre wide, that Palestinians cannot enter but the Israeli army can use as a gateway for launching its “incursions”. Remote-controlled guns mounted on Israeli watch-towers around Gaza can open fire on any Palestinian who is considered to have approached too close.

Three incidents shortly before Jabari’s extra-judicial execution illustrate the struggle for control over Gaza’s interior.

On November 4, the Israeli army shot dead a young Palestinian man inside Gaza as he was reported to have approached the fence. Palestinians say he was mentally unfit and that he could have been saved by medics had ambulances not been prevented from reaching him for several hours.

On November 8, as already noted, the Israeli army made an incursion into Gaza to attack Palestinian militants and in the process shot dead a boy playing football.

And on November 10, two days later, Palestinian fighters fired an anti-tank missile that destroyed a Jeep patrolling the perimeter fence around Gaza, wounding four soldiers.

As the Haaretz reporters note, Hamas appears to be trying to demonstrate that it has as much right to defend its side of the “border fence” as Israel does on the other side.

The army’s response to this display of native impertinence has been to inflict a savage form of collective punishment on Gaza to remind Hamas who is boss.

Fourth culprit: The White House

It is near-impossible to believe that Netanyahu decided to revive Israel’s policy of extra-judicial executions of Hamas leaders – and bystanders – without at least consulting the White House. Israel clearly also held off from beginning its escalation until after the US elections, restricting itself, as it did in Cast Lead, to the “downtime” in US politics between the elections and the presidential inauguration.

That was designed to avoid overly embarrassing the US president. A fair assumption must be that Barack Obama approved Israel’s operation in advance. Certainly he has provided unstinting backing since, despite the wildly optimistic scenarios painted by some analysts that he was likely to seek revenge on Netanyahu in his second term.

Also, it should be remembered that Israel’s belligerence towards Gaza, and the easing of domestic pressure on Israel to negotiate with Hamas or reach a ceasefire, has largely been made possible because Obama forced US taxpayers to massively subsidise Israel’s rocket interception system, Iron Dome, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Iron Dome is being used to shoot down rockets out of Gaza that might otherwise have landed in built-up areas of Israel. Israel and the White House have therefore been able to sell US munificence on the interception of rockets as a humanitarian gesture.

But the reality is that Iron Dome has swung Israel’s cost-benefit calculus sharply in favour of greater aggression because it is has increased Israel’s sense of impunity. Whatever Hamas’ ability to smuggle into Gaza more sophisticated weaponry, Israel believes it can neutralise that threat using interception systems.

Far from being a humanitarian measure, Iron Dome has simply served to ensure that Gaza will continue to suffer a far larger burden of deaths and injuries in confrontations with Israel and that such confrontations will continue to occur regularly.

Here are the four main culprits. They should be held responsible for the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis in the days and, if Israel expands its operation, weeks ahead.

Jonathan Cook won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books); and his new website is www.Jonathan-Cook.net.

Israel ready to expand Gaza offensive, says Binyamin Netanyahu: Guardian

Israeli prime minister says Israel is prepared for ‘significant’ widening of Gaza operation as bombardment enters fifth day

Harriet Sherwood, Peter Beaumont and agencies
Israeli troops gather on the Gaza border as the government authorised the call-up of 75,000 reserve troops Link to this video
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has said it is prepared for a “significant” widening of its Gaza offensive as the bombardment entered its fifth day.

The Palestinian death toll since the conflict began on Wednesday topped 50 after a night of sustained bombing that killed seven civilians, including five children, according to a Gaza health official. Two children died and 12 people were injured when two houses were hit in northern Gaza.

Shells fired from Israeli gunboats off the coast pummelled Gaza for an hour in the middle of the night, causing massive explosions, and six people were injured when two Israeli war planes hit a media building in Gaza City.

Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet in remarks broadcast on Sunday: “We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organisations and the Israel Defence Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation.”

There appeared to be a lull in rocket fire out of Gaza overnight, but air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Ashdod on Sunday morning. Israel’s Channel 2 reported that rocket fire aimed at Tel Aviv was intercepted by an Iron Dome defence battery.

Three Israeli civilians have been killed and more than 50 wounded since Wednesday.

Gaza is braced for a ground invasion by Israeli forces following intensified bombing that included the flattening of the headquarters of the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh. A small mountain of rubble, twisted metal and broken glass was all that remained of Haniyeh’s headquarters. Palestinian flags fluttered on poles poking out from the debris.

Israel has opened the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow medical and humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

As the Israeli military began the emergency call-up of up to 75,000 reservists, leaders from Turkey, Egypt and Qatar met in Cairo to discuss ways of ending the escalating violence. Israel has said it is not prepared to enter into a truce without guarantees the rocket fire won’t resume.

The US urged diplomacy and “de-escalation” but said Israel had the right to self-defence. It wanted the “same thing as the Israelis want” in ending rocket attacks, the White House said in a statement.

Israel’s hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, warned of a “crushing response” still to come to prevent missile fire by Hamas and other militant groups but denied Israel had launched an all-out war.

“The only way we can achieve peace and security is to create real deterrence via a crushing response that will make sure they don’t try to test us again,” he said. “This isn’t an all-out war but an operation with defined goals.” If a ground invasion were authorised Israel would have to “see it through,” he said. “This wasn’t done during Operation Cast Lead [the 22-day war four years ago], which is why we failed to achieve our goal.”

On a visit to Gaza on Saturday, the Tunisian foreign minister, Rafik Abdesslem, denounced the Israeli attacks as unacceptable and against international law.

“Israel should understand that many things have changed and that lots of water has run in the Arab river,” he said. “It should realise it no longer has a free hand. It does not have total immunity and is not above international law … What Israel is doing is not legitimate and is not acceptable at all.”

Regional leaders, along with Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal and Ramadan Shallah, the Islamic Jihad secretary general, are meeting in Cairo to discuss ways of containing the crisis. Others at the gathering included the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Qatari emir.

“There are some indications that there is a possibility of a ceasefire soon, but we do not yet have firm guarantees,” Morsi said.

Arab League diplomats briefed on Saturday evening that its statement would be calling for an immediate ceasefire. However, Hamas officials in Gaza said any truce would be dependent on Israel agreeing to lift its long-term blockade of the territory and agree to end its policy of assassinations of Hamas leaders, conditions that Israel is unlikely to accept.

Egypt brokered an informal truce in October, which has since collapsed. An Arab diplomatic source, who declined to be named, told Reuters the Arab League draft to be discussed by the ministers expresses the Cairo-based league’s support for Egypt’s efforts to achieve a “long-term truce” between Israel and Palestinian factions.

The draft also calls for the UN security council to take the necessary steps to halt the violence and “protect the Palestinian people”.

Israeli air strikes hit media centres in Gaza City: Guardian

Six injured as strikes target buildings housing media organisations including Sky News, al-Arabiya and al-Quds TV

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on an office of Hamas television channel al-Aqsa

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on an office of Hamas television channel al-Aqsa in Gaza City Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli military planes struck two media headquarters in Gaza City in the early hours of Sunday morning, injuring six people including a cameraman, who lost a leg.

A number of media organisations are based in the al-Shawa building, including al-Quds television, which is associated with Islamic Jihad. Khader al-Zahhar, a cameraman with al-Quds TV, had his leg amputated as a result of injuries sustained in the attack.

A second air strike struck another media complex in the city, the al-Shuruq building. It houses Sky News, the al-Arabiya news network, Dubai TV and an office of al-Aqsa TV, which is affiliated with Hamas.

Sky News reporter Sam Kiley was sleeping in the offices when the missile struck shortly before 7am. “The missile hit the floor above us. There was a big flash of light and the sound of breaking glass.”

In a statement, the Israeli Defence Forces said: “A communications antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the state ofIsrael, was … targeted.”

“The second site was targeted at approximately 6.50am and was also part of Hamas’s operational communications that was deliberately located on the roof of the building, in which several international media bureaux reside.

“The IDF calls on international journalists and correspondents who operate in the Gaza Strip carrying out their duties, to stay clear of Hamas’s bases and facilities – which serve them in their activity against the citizens of Israel.”

The Palestinian death toll since the war began last Wednesday topped 50 after a night of sustained bombing. Seven civilians including five NEW children were killed in overnight bombing, a Gaza health official said. Two of the children were killed and 12 people injured when two houses were struck in northern Gaza.

Shells fired from Israeli gunboats positioned off the coast pummelled Gaza for an hour in the middle of the night, causing massive explosions.

There appeared to be a lull in rocket fire out of Gaza overnight, but air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Ashdod on Sunday morning. Israel’s Channel 2 reported that rocket fire aimed at Tel Aviv was intercepted by an Iron Dome defence battery.

Israel opened the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow medical and humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

Israel pounds Gaza Strip from air and sea: Al Jazeera English

Three children killed and media centres hit as Israel keeps up bombardment for fifth straight day.
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2012

Israel is continuing its assault on the Gaza Strip for a fifth straight day, bombarding the Palestinian enclave from both the air and sea.

Medical sources said three children were killed on Sunday. One of them was an 18-month-old killed in a air raid east of Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

Meanwhile, fighters in Gaza fired rockets into Israel. Two of them, aimed at the commercial hub of Tel Aviv, were shot down by Israel’s anti-missile system, police said.

An air raid before dawn in Gaza City targeted a building housing the offices of local Arab media, wounding several journalists from al-Quds television, a station Israel sees as a mouthpiece of the Hamas movement which rules the Gaza Strip.

“At least six journalists were wounded, with minor and moderate injuries, when Israeli warplanes hit the al-Quds TV office in the Showa and Housari building in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told the AFP news agency, adding that one journalist lost his leg.

Witnesses reported extensive damage to the building, and said journalists had evacuated after an initial strike, which was followed by at least two more on the site.

A second media centre was targeted later on Sunday morning. Sky News, al-Arabiya, and the official Hamas-run channel al-Aqsa TV have offices in the building. Qudra said two journalists were injured in the attack.

The Israeli military said it had targeted “two Hamas operational communication sites” and had only targeted communication devices located on the roof to “minimise the damage to non-involved persons”.

Huge plumes of smoke were billowing in the sky after a security building in Gaza City was hit.

Two other attacks on houses in the Jebalya refugee camp killed one child and wounded 12 other people, medical officials said.

Rockets fired

Gaza has been under attack since Wednesday, when Israel launched a military offensive with the declared goal of deterring Gaza fighters from launching rockets into its territory.

Fifty-one Palestinians, about half of them civilians, including 14 children, have been killed in Israel’s raids, Palestinian officials said. More than 500 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel, killing three people and injuring dozens.

Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from Gaza City, said some people who live near the northern and eastern borders with Israel had been leaving their homes to seek shelter with relatives elsewhere. Meanwhile in Gaza City, streets were relatively quiet.

Al Jazeera’s correspondents report from
Gaza City and Sderot, Israel

“People still do think that the Israeli military might actually launch a ground incursion. They are of course also worried that they might be near targets of the Israeli military, and they might also be near to a place from where rockets are being launched.”

Our correspondent said he had witnessed a rocket being launched from a waste ground in the city. “Then I saw civilians running away from that area,” he said.

Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel subsided during the night but resumed in the morning with at least 50 rockets fired, the Israeli army said.

At least 17 of them were intercepted by the so-called Iron Dome, Israel’s a missile-defence system meant to shoot down rockets and artillery shells fired at populated areas. Two people were lightly injured by a rocket hitting a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon, the Magen David Adom emergency services said.

Israel said it would keep schools in its south shut on Sunday as a precaution to avoid casualties from rocket strikes.

Hamas defiant

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready to “significantly expand” its operation against fighters in Gaza.

 

The military said Israeli aircraft had targeted dozens of underground rocket launchers overnight, “causing severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of Hamas and other terror organisations”.

It also confirmed that its navy has shelled Gaza, hitting targets on the northern Gaza shore line.

Hamas remained defiant, with its military spokesman Abu Ubaida insisting that despite Israel’s blows the movement “is still strong enough to destroy the enemy”.

“This round of confrontation will not be the last against the Zionist enemy and it is only the beginning,” he told a televised news conference.

Urgent communication from Gaza – Names of the Palestinians murdered by Israel until now!

Because we are NOT just numbers, keep following this post of the names and ages of murdered people who fell victim during the past days of Israeli attacks on Gaza since Wednesday. The number rises to 57 and still rising :( I hope that this battle will cost us no more souls. However, nothing will depress us, no matter how much Israel escalates its inhumanity and crimes. We’ll remain ready to pay any price for attaining of freedom and dignity. RIP!

1- Ahmad Al-Ja’bary, 52 years old.
2-Mohammed Al-hams, 28 years old.
3- Rinan Arafat, 7 years old.
4- Omar Al-Mashharawi, 11 moonths old.
5-Essam Abu-Alma’za, 20 years old.
6-Mohammed Al-qaseer, 20 years old.
7- Heba Al-Mashharawi, six-month pregnant, 19 years old.
8- Mahmoud Abu Sawawin, 65 years old.

9- Habis Hassan Mismih, 29 years old.
10- Wael Haidar Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
11- Hehsam Mohammed Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
12- Rani Hammad, 29 years old.
13- Khaled Abi Nasser, 27 year old.
14- Marwan Abu Al-Qumsan, 52 years old.
15- Walid Al-Abalda, 2 years old.
16- Hanin Tafesh, 10 months old.
17- Oday Jammal Nasser, 16 years old.
18- Fares Al-Basyouni, 11 years old.
19- Mohammed Sa’d Allah, 4 years old.
20- Ayman Abu Warda, 22 years old.
21- Tahrir Suliman, 20 years old.
22- Ismael Qandil, 24 years old.
23- younis Kamal Tafesh, 55 years old.
24- Mohammed Talal Suliman, 28 years old.
25- Amjad Mohammed Abu-Jalal, 32 years old.
26- Ziyad Farhan Abu-Jalal, 23 years old.
27- Ayman Mohammed Abu Jalal, 44 years old.
28- Hassan Salem Al-Heemla’, 27 years old.
29- Khaled Khalil Al-Shaer, 24 years old.
30- Ayman Rafeeq sleem, 26 years old.
31- Ahmad Abu Musamih, 32 years old.

At 8:20 am, as a result to an Israeli inhumane attack on Deel Al-Balah, central Gaza, three people were killed. The list of murdered victims goes longer>>>

32- Osama Abdejjawad
33- Ashraf Darwish
34- Ali Al-Mana’ma

At 8:45 am_ 9:00 am, warplanes attacked several places including Rafah, Khan-Younis, and Tal Al-Sultan, southern Gaza, leaving three killed>>

35`- Mukhlis Edwan
36- Mohammed Al-Loulhy, 24 years old.
37- Ahmad Al-Atrush

In a series of attacks on several places on central Gaza at noon, two more people fell victim:

38- Abderrahman Al-Masri

39- Awad Al-Nahhal
40- Ali Hassan Iseed, 25 years old, killed in an attack on his motorbike in Deer Al-Balah, central Gaza, at 8:10 pm, Novebmer 17.

IOF attack another motorbike in Deer Al-Balah at 8:20 pm, leaving two more killed:
41- Mohammed Sabry Al’weedat, 25 years old.
42- Osama Yousif Al-Qadi, 26 years old.

In an attack on central Gaza, to the west of Al-Masdar area, at 9:10 pm, two more people people killed:
43- Ahmad Ben Saeed, 42 years old.
44- Hani Bre’m, 31 years old.

At 9:40 pm, Israel attacked Qdeih family’s house in west Khan-Younis, Southern Gaza and a woman got killed.
45- Samaher Qdeih, 28 years old.
46- Tamer Al-Hamry, 26 years old, died after being seriously injured in an attack on Deer Al-Balah.

On November 18, the fifth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:

Israeli warplanes shelled the house of Abu-Alfoul family in northern Gaza, killing two children and injuring at 13 at least, mostly children and women.

47- Gumana Salamah Abu Sufyan, 1 year old.

48- Tamer Salamah Abu Sufyan, 3 years old.

An Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a house that belongs to the family of Abu Nuqira in Rafah killing one person:

49- Muhamed Abu Nuqira

An Israeli war plane fired a missile at a house in an agricultural land east of Bureij camp, in the Central Gaza Strip, killing one child and injuring 2 other children:

50- Eyad Abu Khusa, 18 months old.

Two people were killed, one of them a child, when an Israeli missile hit a beachfront refugee camp in Gaza City:

51- Tasneem Zuheir Al-Nahhal, 13 years old.

52- Ahmad Essam Al-Nahhal, 25 years old.

Medics also reported finding the body of woman under the rubble of a house in eastern Gaza City who had been killed in a strike earlier in the morning.

53- Nawal Abdelaal, 52 years old.

At 3:10 pm, November 18, Israel rocked a house belongs to Al-Dalou family in Sheikh-Redwan area, west Gaza, killing 3 people, three sisters, and a man.

54- Sulifa Al-Dalou, 50 years old.

55- Samah Al-Dalou, 25 years old.

56- Tahani Al-Dalou, 46 years old.

57- Abdallah Al-Mzannar

Keep following this post. I’m going to keep updating it on everything that is happening as much as I can and as long as I’m breathing!

EDITOR: listen to an ace analysis of Israel’s aggression on the The Real News by Phyllis Bennis, who is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She is the author of Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis , Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer:

Click here to continue reading “November 18, 2012″ »

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November 17, 2012

EDITOR: While the world protests the murders, governments of the west continue to support the crimes

Millions of people around the globe look with growing disbelief at their television screens and daily papers, bringing to them, again, the harrowing pictures of murder, wanton destruction and continuing war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, for the umpteen time, with the ‘democracies’ of the west supporting the Israeli side. These are the governments which have brought us the financial crisis, which have refused to tax the rich, which bring untold misery to millions of Europeans, not to mention people in the developing world. These are the governments which enacted and supported the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, and which stood by Israel when it decimated, not for the first, second or even third time, the South of Lebanon in summer 2006, and Gaza in winter 2008/9. These are the governments which give Israel military, financial, and diplomatic and political support, however much death it sows. These are the governments which refuse, for many decades, any vestiges of human rights to the Palestinians, and which overlook Israel brutal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the hundreds of illegal settlements built there, despite all the faint noises from the UN over decades.

It seems that the ‘democracies’, as they dubbed themselves during the Cold War, are doing all they can to convince the Palestinians that there is no one they can talk to, rely upon, or hope for help and justice from. There shall be no peaceful and just solution to the Middle East crisis, because the west has denied that option, with stridently looking elsewhere when Israelis have broken all the international laws they could, and all standard of humane behaviour. That there is no more a possibility of a two-state solution, is a direct result of this criminal hypocrisy by the the US, EU, Canada, Australia, Japan and some other partners in crime.

Yes, Israel is the perpetrator of the war crimes, but none could have taken place without the multifarious support of the ‘democracies’. Now they are all ranged against Iran, due to its nuclear programme, but not a single word is spoken by their deluded leaders against Israel’s nuclear arsenal of more than 250 H bombs. This hypocrisy is destablising not only the Middle East, but the whole world, and is destructive not just politically and financially, but also environmentally. Israel continues to write the script for pliant regimes across the world, on a number of topics: The ‘War on Terror’, the ‘clash of civilisations’, and the continued anti-Islamic crusade upheld by the so called Judeo-Christian cultures. As long as this toxic influence is affecting ALL world affairs, there no hope not only for peaceful and just solution in Palestine, but any end to the other conflicts in the Middle East, not to mention an end to the crisis now devastating so many countries.

In his Cairo University address, the world has assumed, for at least few hours, that Barack Hussein Obama, a Nobel Laureate, has also understood this simple truth. Few believe in this failed idol now, even in his own country, even in his own rank. More than any US president before him, he has demonstrated a total inability to think and act to stabilise and improve the situation in Palestine, and has been in hock to the illegal aggressors in the Israeli regime, more fascist and right wing than ever before. Even Israelis, not to mention the people of Palestine, understand that this weak, indecisive and easily swayed politician is unable to take the lead, and is too much of a coward to move towards change in this bloody colonial conflict. There is no hope for Palestinians, and a result also for Israeli Jews, from that quarter, or from their own blood-thirsty and racist leader. Instead of using the lessons of the Holocaust to make sure racism and hate are never again successful, the Israeli leaders use fascism and racism against the Palestinians. We should remember that abused children are many times also abusing fathers in their own turn, and it seems that this is what has also happened in the case of Israel – they continue the cycle of abuse, hate and murder, which Jews over the centuries were the victims of, so often.

What is to be done, one wonders? As millions across the globe are angry, and go out into the streets to express this understandable emotion, they are also aware of their inability to change the course of events, to influence their own governments’ blind support of Israeli aggression, and through it, the continuation and intensification of the conflict, and the suffering not only of Palestinians, but also of Israelis. Unfortunately, what this inability of all of us proves is the weakness and corruption of our social and political structures in the west, and for me, specifically, of these structures in Britain – the ex-empire which hatched and matured this injustice though its colonial Mandate period between 1918 and 1948. The only solution is to tie the fight for justice and peace in Palestine to the struggles for social justice in Europe, against the neo-colonial wars by the western powers, and against the continuing erosion of civil society and its institutions in Europe. Such a struggle needs to be inspired by the Ant-Apartheid movement, and both its success to bring down Apartheid and its policies, as well as the failure to change the social structure of racist privilege in South Africa. The only hope of changing the European position on Israel and Zionism, is through the change of European governments, towards a socialist, equal societies in all European countries. How can we see a change in Palestine otherwise? Obama? He is a prisoner of AIPAC and will never act against what Israel considers its interests. Anyone waiting for change from that quarter is either fooled easily, or fooling themselves. How many decades of Palestinian suffering are necessary for people to understand this?

We all need to stand up and be counted. When my parents families were decimated by the Nazis in Poland, no one was prepared to stand up for them, so they had no hope. Palestinians today need your help, or they will perish likewise. History should not be allowed to repeat its horrific mistakes, and its our responsibility to make sure it doesn’t. All of us are responsible for this!

Stand up and defend Palestine, its right to just peace, and you by definition also defend the same right for Israeli Jews. Oppose the continued atrocities in the name of common humanity!

 

The report below clearly shows examples of the international action against Israeli brutalities:

Listen to the excellent and astute Rachel Shabi of the Guardian speaking about the inept and corrupt Arab League, and its total failure to assist the Palestinians, again:

EDITOR: The BBC has again supported Israel in its crimes!

For those of us who support the BBC as a crucial part of the public arena in the UK, now under attack by the Tory dogs of war, it has again become very difficult to defend an institution devoted to impartiality, taking Israel’s side on every turn of the road, on every news bulletin. The loses of the aggressor are always reported first, and those of the people under attack are glossed over or disregarded. The language and terminology comes out of the Israeli Hasbara guidebook, it seems, and the sentiments are all one sided. It makes sense for the national broadcaster of one aggressor nation in a war against Islam, to take the part of another aggressor nation against Islam, of course. It makes no sense for a public broadcaster with responsibility for truth and impartiality to do that, and we are all financing Auntie BBC and rightly feel we own it.

On Gaza, and on Palestine, the BBC does not speak for the people of Britain. It speaks for Israel and for the Tory-LibDem Coalition administration. One has to admit that the government of the war criminal Tony Blair was no better on Palestine, for the same reasons.

To remind you how horrible the BBC can be on Palestine, I suggest looking at this memorable and incredible clip of Tony Benn, the secular saint of British public life, during the 2009 massacre in Gaza, when the BBC has shamefully refused to broadcast the details of DEC Gaza appeal. Watch and wonder!

 

Fear and loathing in Gaza as offensive continues: Haaretz

Rain of fire and destruction conjures up memories of Operation Cast Lead and fear for the future
By Amira Hass     | Nov.17, 2012

Palestinians inspect a destroyed mosque after an Israeli air strike in Bureij, central Gaza Strip, November 17, 2012. Photo by Reuters

Five people were killed Saturday morning in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah, Palestinian sources said. Earlier, during an aerial attack Friday night, six Palestinians including one civilian were killed, a top source at the Health Ministry in Gaza claimed.

From the outset of Operation Pillar of Defense to Saturday morning, 37 Palestinians have died of whom at least 10 were civilians; Palestinian sources count 17 civilian deaths. Dozens more have been wounded.

Red Cross sources in Gaza say several medical centers, including the emergency facility in Jabaliya, suffered collateral damage from the strikes.

People living in the northern and eastern parts of the Gaza Strip began to flee their homes as of Friday as heavy fighting raged nearby. Talking with Haaretz, some described ceaseless attacks from sea, land and air only a few yards from them, “shaking the ground and the walls.”

Among the people who fled are the Samouni family, who live in the eastern part of the Gaza neighborhood Zeitoun. During Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-09, 21 members of the Samouni family were killed when commander of the Givati Brigade, Ilan Malka, ordered their home bombed. Based on photos from an unmanned drone, Malka concluded the building was sheltering armed Palestinians. One of the Samouni women says she and her children are now reliving the trauma of 2009.

The strike on the Hamas government Saturday morning was also watched warily by neighbors. On Thursday, a man living in the area told Haaretz that people were expecting Israeli jets to bomb the symbol of Hamas civil rule. In 2008 the government buildings were in the southern Gaza neighborhood Tel el-Hawa, and were destroyed in a series of strikes. About three to four months later, the government moved to a building in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Nasser.

“It was a very difficult night,” S. told Haaretz. “The bombing didn’t stop. At about five, I was preparing for prayer, when I heard an explosion nearby and figured it was the government building.” Two hours later, he says, the Israel Air Force bombed another target on the IDF’s list – the soccer stadium in Palestine Square. Less than 200 yards from a mosque that was packed at the time. S.’s 13-year-old son relates: “I was sleeping. The noise woke me up.” The shockwave warped the neighbors’ doors, he said. “We leave the windows open, so the glass didn’t break, but the neighbors’ windows broke. Shockwaves caused bricks to fall on cars and damaged them. One of them dented our car.”

Everybody he knows felt heartened by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil’s visit to Gaza, says S.: It made them more resilient. “Today the Tunisian foreign minister came and tomorrow other delegations will be coming form Egypt. When I watch Israeli television, I feel they don’t understand the change that Egypt and Tunisia have undergone. They’re still thinking in terms of despots dependent on the United States, and don’t realize that the opinion of the Egyptian people plays an important role in Egyptian policy.”

A number of medical centers were damaged during the fighting of the last three days, the organization Physicians for Human Rights said in a press release. Dr. Bashar Murad, director of the Red Crescent’s Gaza emergency and rescue services, told the organization there were no direct strikes on emergency services or their centers. But some were close enough to strikes to have suffered severe damage, mainly in the open areas of the south such as the emergency center in Jabalya. It was hit by large, sharp shards and rubble, some weighing as much as ten pounds, he says: “We received no notice or request to evacuate before the attack.”

Medical facilities in the Tel el-Hawa district were damaged, Murad says, including the al-Quds Hospital. “Most of the windows were shattered. Some of the roofs collapsed or were damaged from the shock of the bombings (not direct hits). The Jabalya emergency and rescue center was damaged.” The patients are afraid in the very place they’re supposed to feel cared for, he says.

“The damage to infrastructure, such as the roads, creates obstacles and delays in reaching the wounded. Sometimes roads are blocked by a bomb crater, or rubble from destroyed houses and ambulances can’t get through,” Murad says. “The paramedics have to go on foot and carry the injured risking their own lives, and naturally get to the injured later at a time when every minute can be the difference between life and death.”

“One of the biggest dangers is when a place is bombed for a second time, when medical teams are already on their way,” he continues. “There have been cases where the same place was bombed twice, with a few minutes to half an hour or an hour in between, which endangers rescue teams.”

According to Palestinian health authorities, as of Saturday morning 13 civilians, six of which were children, had been killed since the start of the offensive. 37 have died since the campaign began, and as of Friday afternoon, the count of wounded had reached 257, of whom 253 are civilians, including 62 children and 42 women.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, two children were killed on Thursday night in the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza, after a strike near their home: Udai Nasser, 15, and Fares el-Basiyuni, 8.

Earlier Thursday evening, in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahia, Marwan al-Komsan, 52, a teacher employed by the United Nations refugee agency, was killed while visiting his brother. A mortar shell or explosive fell in a field near the brother’s home, seriously injuring the brother, who is 72.

In Zeitoun, a 10-month-old girl, Hanan Tafesh, died Thursday night of head injuries sustained in a strike the day before. Her mother and two others were wounded.

Camel Makat, 23, died Friday morning of a heart attack after a fighter jet bombed a field near his home in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in northwestern Gaza City. On Friday evening 2-year-old Walid al-Abdullah died of his injuries sustained the day before in a strike on the village of al-Kara, east of Khan Yunis.

In Israeli strikes on Zeitoun Wednesday, a 3-year-old girl, Ranin Arafat, was killed along with an 11-month-old boy, Amar Masharawi, and a pregnant 19-year-old woman, Hiba Masharawi-Turk. Also on Wednesday, a 61-year-old man, Mahmoud Hmad, was killed in a field in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

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