November 10, 2009
November 10, 2009
A friend just asked me if the situation in Gaza had calmed down because they had not heard anything on the news lately. I was shocked because of course it isn’t better in Gaza, it’s worse. Do we have so much going on in our lives that conflicts in other countries become abstract unless we have periodic reminders? Perhaps. If so, here’s a reminder in the form of the story of a friend of mine.
Ayman Hassan Al Masri lives in the town of Biet Lahya in the northern part of the Gaza Strip along with his wife Ghada and their six children. The kids range from one to fourteen years old. I met Ayman over repeated card games at our home in Gaza during 2004 and later in and around his farm lands. We spent a lot of evenings together and I knew him to be kind, even tempered and having a gentle disposition. In normal times, he runs the family nursery business raising fruit trees for local farmers and for export. But these are not normal times.
Early in 2004, an Israeli tank paid the Al Masri family business a visit. The results were catastrophic. The tank ran directly through a line of greenhouses carrying away the construction and irrigation system. It also destroyed the entire nursery stock. When I visited the site, six months later, it was still a jumbled mess of mud, torn plastic, broken piping and dead plants. But, it gets worse. In 2003, a year earlier, the nursery had also been paid a visit by a marauding armored vehicle. This previous attack had also completely destroyed the greenhouses and nursery stock. The family business was wiped out two years in a row and as far as I know, never did recover.
I never heard a word about either of these incidents until I was actually standing on the ruins of the nursery and demanded an explanation. Ayman, he never showed any signs of stress; he never voiced an angry word of any kind. A hard story to hear, but not an unusual one. Everything of value in Gaza is at risk at one time or another. But this story gets even worse.
In January of 2009, the State of Israel invaded the Gaza Strip, leveled or damaged most of the buildings killed around 1,500 people and injured 5,000 more. In the middle of that military action, the Israeli military authorities declared a cease-fire on January 10th. So that civilians could evacuate from targeted areas or seek food and medical service.
Ayman’s sister in law Wafa, who was nine months pregnant at this time, decided to visit her doctor in the center of town. Ayman’s wife Ghada went along with her. They didn’t make it.
To put the attack in perspective, you need to know that the optics on the drone aircraft used by Israel are really excellent. The drone operator saw what he was doing as he closed in on two women walking along an otherwise deserted street.
Both women were blown off of their feet by the impact of two missiles. Ghada suffered
multiple fractures of both legs. Wafa was struck by shrapnel all over her body, was severely burned, had her right leg blown off and her left leg mangled. The first ambulance to respond took Ghada to the local hospital but left Wafa for dead. A second noticed that Wafa was pregnant and took her to the hospital to save her baby. In the middle of an emergency delivery they noticed that Wafa was still alive. Both women were subsequently evacuated to an Egyptian hospital, where they required five and a half months to recuperate from their wounds. A full account of this ordeal can be read on page 17 of the PHCR report “Through Women’s Eyes”
Both women are home now, although Wafa cannot walk and Ghada has limited mobility and use of her legs. Medicine is very limited and physiotherapy is nonexistent. Neither woman can adequately take care of her family.
So there’s a tale. And here’s a picture to go with it. The faces say it all. A very kind and caring individual has had his livelihood destroyed. His wife has been permanently disabled. Their sister has been traumatized and permanently maimed. Now they must find a way to raise six children in the hope that they will have a future and a better life.
by Philip Weiss on November 10, 2009
Steve Sosebee of Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) and Felice Gelman of Wespac have been working tirelessly stateside to help this little girl, whom Gelman and I met in Beit Lahiya, Gaza. Kudos to them, and to PCRF, whose reps in Gaza and the West Bank apparently managed to get the Palestinian Authority to act on this desperate case. And Gelman tells me that at Wespac’s urging, Nita Lowey, the powerful Westchester congresswoman, apparently put in a word to the U.S. State Department– even as Lowey worked to bury the Goldstone report (as an impediment to the peace process!).
Sosebee tells me that Farah will be accompanied by three other children from Gaza who need treatment. One with shrapnel wounds to the face, another with a gunshot wound to the leg, and a third child with a birth defect. "Farah got out of Gaza on Sunday with her grandmother, they are both suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder."
It may take months or a year for the plastic surgery that Farah needs so that she can develop normally. She will live with her grandmother with a host family. Sosebee fears the psychological wounds even more than the physical ones. This little girl and her grandmother have lost their whole family in a scorching horrifying blast. What can our country do to heal that relentless damage? Here is PCRF’s site, if you want to get them some money.
Gelman also speaks of the political work that is more important than the humanitarian work. What does it mean that she has to go to our State Department to try and get pencils into the Gaza Strip? What does it mean that these people need international permission to do anything? As Taghreed El-Khodary of the New York Times told us last May, this is not a humanitarian crisis, it is a political crisis. And one in which our country has recklessly taken sides in.
November 08, 2009
by Bruce Wolman on November 7, 2009
The New Yorker sent Lawrence Wright, its Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer, over to Israel and Gaza to report on "What really happened during the Israeli attacks?" I’m not sure what the reason was for the question mark, unless it was a hint not to take what’s written as what really happened. Wright’s letter from Gaza is disappointing, but then it could have been worse. Had Jeffrey Goldberg remained on The New Yorker’s staff, he would most certainly have been the one David Remnick sent over for this assignment. We can all imagine how Jeffrey’s piece would have read.
After giving a second read to Wright’s letter, I couldn’t quite understand my deep initial antipathy. But then I noticed that the first seventy paragraphs or so are only a preamble to the last twenty in which Wright finally addresses the actual Gaza invasion. By the time this reader reached the supposed subject of the piece, he was already zoned out from Wright’s jaded history and observations. Perhaps this is the only way a New York-based weekly magazine can get away with discussing possible Israeli war crimes – by first providing a great deal of background information in conformance with the basic Hasbara narratives of the conflict.
Wright attempts to present a timeline of what happened leading up to the Gaza invasion. He starts back in June 2006, six months after Hamas had won the Palestinian parliamentary elections. According to Wright, a "moment of promise" in the "opportunity for peace" culminated in bloodshed June 24, 2006, when Hamas commandos killed two Israeli soldiers and captured a third from a Merkava tank–teenaged Gilad Shalit. In retaliation, the Israelis over the next months arrested 64 senior Palestinian officials and killed over 400 Gazans, including 88 children, and turned Gaza upside down looking for their missing soldier.
Left unexplained is why Wright believes that on June 24th peace still had a moment of promise. He suggests that Hamas’ goal in capturing Shalit was to put a halt to the peace initiatives. Apparently Hamas’ stated goal – to negotiate for some of the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners – is not sufficient to explain the Hamas attack. Wright also refers to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza settlements as if it was an Israeli peace overture. He writes,
"From the Israeli perspective, at least, the Gaza problem was supposed to have been solved in August, 2005, when Ariel Sharon, then the Prime Minister, closed down the Jewish settlements on the Strip and withdrew Israeli forces. The international community and the Israeli left wing applauded the move. But, almost immediately, mortar and rocket attacks from the Strip multiplied."
As Shlomo Ben-Ami and others have noted, Ariel Sharon conceived of the unilateral withdrawal of the settlers and Israeli forces from Gaza as a means to avoid further peace initiatives and demands for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, not as a stimulus to the peace process. Wright is correct about the international community’s approval–if by "international community" he follows the US State Department meaning, i.e., any ad-hoc collection of countries expressing (either willingly or by pressure) public agreement with a United States position. The Israeli left wing did applaud, if by left-wing one includes Israelis such as Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz’s own version of Tom Friedman and one of Wright’s sources. But moderate leftists and peace negotiators such as Shlomo Ben-Ami and Yosi Beilin warned from the time of Sharon’s announcement that a unilateral, as opposed to a negotiated, withdrawal would lead to negative consequences for the peace process and quite likely an acceleration of violence. Ben-Ami in his 2006 book, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace predicted rather accurately what has happened in the aftermath.
For me, a key litmus test in truth telling on the situation in Gaza is how a report handles the takeover of the Strip by Hamas. If the narrative doesn’t refer to the Bush-Rice-Abrams backing (most likely even initiating) of Mohammed Dahlan’s Gaza coup attempt, which preceded the Hamas preemptive counter-coup, then it is seriously remiss. It is amazing to what extent the mainstream media continues to ignore David Rose’s well-sourced report on the US role in Dahlan’s power play, which appeared in Vanity Fair.
Wright does state that "Fatah refused to step aside and let Hamas govern." He mentions the "large demonstrations by both factions in the West Bank and Gaza, along with kidnappings, gun battles, and assassinations." And he even refers to the peace accord between Fatah and Hamas arranged by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. But he fails to inform that the United States opposed the Saudi accord, and subverted it by conspiring with Dahlan in his attempt to organize a putsch. Unfortunately, for the United States, Israel, Fatah and Dahlan, Hamas routed Dahlan’s forces.
Wright’s treatment of Gaza is mostly nasty (quite a contrast with this site’s reporting from Gaza last spring). Here is the tenor: The Israelis would like to ignore Gaza and forget it even exists (after 36 years of insisting they had to place settlers there). The West Bankers want to distance themselves from their poor relatives. Egypt’s only goal is to make sure Gaza remains Israel’s problem. A Saudi with a drink in his hand tells Israel to get the bombing right this time.
We are informed Gaza ran out of allies before the invasion. While this may be mostly true if one considers only the corrupt rulers and elites of the Arab countries, and the GWOT leaders of Europe and the United States [Global War on Terror], for the Arab and Muslim populations across the globe empathy with Gaza is one of the few political stances they all hold in common. Gaza can only be kept friendless by the application of authoritarian repression and Western interference.
According to Wright, "the territory has long had the highest concentration of poverty, extremism, and hopelessness in the region." There is nothing there for the children to do, yet the Gazans love nothing more than to fuck and have more kids. (One man tells Wright that Gazans love to procreate.)The movie theaters are shut down. Little music can be heard. Sports facilities have been destroyed. Sharia law is being introduced.
Wright goes through a litany of Hamas social policies of which he obviously disapproves. This is a subject worthy of discussion, and I share some of his concerns, but what do these policies have to do with what really happened in the Israeli attacks? Many of the same criticisms can be made of the social practices in the ultra-orthodox towns of Israel, but would that help to explain the Gaza invasion? Saudi Arabian society is far more repressive than Hamas’ Gaza. Still this hardly provokes New Yorker writers to suggest we invade Saudi Arabia.
Apparently Wright didn’t find any Gazans with something positive to say about Hamas. Gazans not in Hamas are worried. "The whole place is becoming a mosque," complains one female reporter. A native Gazan businessman says he feels like "a refugee in my own country" since the Hamas takeover. An economist tells Wright that "Secular people are punished. The future is frightening."
He devotes six paragraphs to a visit with a cell sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, a faction which Hamas has acted against. The complaints from these Jihadists are the opposite of the previous quoted Gazans. “We thought Hamas was going to apply Islamic law here, but they are not.” He [the leader of the Jihadi coalition] spoke of the “fancy restaurants on the beach” and said that Hamas tolerated uncovered women there. “They have a much more moderate way of life, and we cannot deal with that.” Well, which is it in Gaza?
Wright provides the obligational presentation of the more outrageous clauses in the Hamas Charter, and says that the charter "has come to embody the fear that many Israelis hold about the Palestinians." Yet, he fails to report that Israel was not very fearful of the Charter at the time of Hamas’ founding in 1987. In fact, the Israeli government initially aided Hamas and supported its growth, calculating that the Islamists would be a useful tool to reduce the strengths of the more secular Fatah and PLO.
Ari Shavit is given space to recall 2002 and his experience visiting a bombed cafe in Jerusalem. Since Gaza and Hamas are the current evil-doers, we only hear about Hamas attacks and Gazan celebrations of the Moment Cafe bombing. The fact that all the Palestinian factions were involved in suicide bombings at that time is no longer relevant, as Fatah and the West Bankers are currently the good Palestinians.
Wright asserts, "The Hamas [suicide bombing] attacks derailed the peace process initiated by the Oslo accords and hardened many Israelis against the Palestinian cause." Which is to say: The failed negotiations, Sharon’s provocative march on the Temple Mount, the Israeli massive overuse of force to quell the initial outbreaks of the Second Intifada (before any suicide bombings I might add), and the election of right-wing tough guy Sharon evidently had no causal relationship to the Palestinian attacks or the derailment of the peace process. In fact, and it is hard to believe Wright doesn’t know this, the peace process died with the elections of Ariel Sharon and George Bush. The violence that followed was in response to the violence. It developed its own momentum divorced from the failed peace process. It was an escalating tit-for-tat.
Gaza is sui generis from Wright’s perspective, as if God instead of resting on the seventh day, fooled around for a few hours and built himself an anti-Eden and called it Gaza. I began to see Gaza as, I suspect, many Gazans do: a floating island, a dystopian Atlantis, drifting farther away from contact with any other society. Wright offers a very concise take on the origins of Gaza and mucks it up for some unrevealed reason. He correctly asserts that Gaza was part of Britain’s mandate over Palestine, but then goes on to say that the Brits "considered Gaza res nullius — nobody’s property." I spent quite some time Googling round to find out the source of Wright’s claim here without result. No reference to Britain specifically considering Gaza res nullius came up.
Curiously, the legal concept of res nullius is often introduced by certain Israeli supporters and legal experts, especially the Commentary and David Horowitz crowd, in order to claim that Israel is not illegally occupying the territories. But they claim that all the territories – the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – not just Gaza are res nullius. The majority of international legal experts dispute that res nullius applies to the occupied territories.
During the 1948 war, Palestinian refugees did flee to the Gaza Strip. When the armistice lines were drawn, Gaza was under the control of the Egyptians. After the 1967 war, control switched to the Israelis. But Wright goes further and claims "Israel and Egypt agreed to try to set up a Palestinian entity that would rule Gaza, but it was clear that neither party wanted responsibility for the Strip, so it remained in limbo, little more than a notional part of a Palestinian entity that might never come into existence." The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Agreement called for a resolution of the Palestinian issue. From the time the Arab League recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people, Gaza was considered an integral part of the Palestinian territories even by Egypt. This was reaffirmed in the Oslo accords. So it’s unclear to me why Wright would seek to portray Gaza as a "notional part of a Palestinian entity". Of course, for the Israelis a hived-off Gaza lessens the current demographic threat and it would like nothing better then to declare Gaza an orphan, and an unloved one at that.
There are other inaccuracies which leads one to wonder how familiar Wright is with his subject matter. For example, he has Salam Fayyad, the current Prime Minister as a Fatah loyalist, when in fact Fayyad is an independent. In the last Palestinian election he ran for the Legislature on the list of a small party he organized with Hanan Ashrawi.
He notes splits within Fatah’s leadership, but ignores the ‘radical’ Meshal’s recent statements indicating Hamas’ willingness to accept a state based on the 1967 borders.
Wright repeats an excuse Israel gives for the timing of the Gaza attack, that Hamas was introducing GRAD rockets into Gaza. Yet, he must know that Israel has not shut down the tunnel smuggling and, if Israeli’s claims about the GRADs are true, GRADs are obviously still being stockpiled.
More seriously, Wright wrongly interprets Israeli tactics:
The Israeli military adopted painstaking efforts to spare civilian lives in Gaza. Two and a half million leaflets were dropped into areas that were about to come under attack, urging noncombatants to “move to city centers.” But Gaza is essentially a cage, and the city centers also came under attack. Intelligence officers called residents whose houses were going to be targeted, urging them to flee. The Air Force dropped “roof knockers”—small, noisemaking shells—on top of some houses to warn the residents to escape before the next, real bomb fell on them.
Israel may claim it drops leaflets and makes calls to spare civilian lives, but obviously if that is the case, it never investigates how these tactics work in practice. With no safe place to go, with attacks on anything that moves, with bombings shifting from one locale to another, Israeli warnings only increase civilian panic. Why flee your home if you don’t know whether you will be safe out in the open, and there is no place to flee to? Or whether the school or refugee center you reach will be the next target. Had Israel been serious about protecting civilians, then it would have opened its borders and let the non-combatant Palestinians flee from the war zone as international law demands. But Israel would not countenance Palestinian refugees on its territory, so it could only urge that they even more tightly concentrate themselves in the Gaza urban areas, which the Israelis eventually ended up attacking anyway.
Several times Wright repeats the Israeli mantra that no country would accept the rocket firing on its citizens that Israel has experienced. He even quotes Obama in Israel last year, “No country would accept missiles landing on the heads of its citizens. If missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” The twelve thousand rockets and mortars fired into Israel between 2000 and 2008 are noted, but the context is missing. This is partially correct, but not very illuminating.
By hewing to the Israeli narrative, Wright is unable to see the truth, that both sides are locked into a strategic race for deterrence against the other. "Collective punishment" applied to civilians, aka terror when the other side is employing it, is the means by which Israel seeks to maintain deterrence, and hence control, of the Palestinians. In response Hamas has attempted to establish its own deterrence vis-a-vis Israel with guerrilla actions, terror attacks, suicide bombings (a tactic which turned out to be a failure and counterproductive), and more recently, inaccurate rocket attacks.
In military and think-tank circles Israel is fairly open about its application of collective punishment. Indeed, civilian death tolls have never led to Israeli second thoughts. Gaza worked, they will say. Less obvious and accepted is the notion that the Palestinians are also in their own way also seeking a deterrent capability. (During the Second Intifada the Palestinians overplayed their hand and went beyond deterrence in the way they accelerated the suicide bombings, deluding themselves for a brief period of time into thinking these tactics were so successful they could achieve parity with Israel by their use. Instead the carnage provoked a ferocious Israeli reaction and the Israelis crushed the Palestinian uprising. Hamas has since returned to searching for a way to establish a level of deterrence. Fatah has abandoned the armed route, but has gained nothing with the Israelis. Whether Fatah will remain passive remains to be seen.)
Being the far superior power, Israel has determined the rules of the conflict. Hamas and the Palestinians respond. Seen in the context of a mutual game of deterrence, Hamas’ strategy and tactical maneuverings are rational, even if the acts themselves are immoral. We are not simply seeing the bloodthirsty cravings of extremists or the primitive urges for revenge as Wright implies.
Basically Israel is satisfied with the status quo. The Palestinians want to upend that status quo – aiming for one state or two states – i.e., some end to the occupation. To deter Palestinian violence against the current order, Israel enforces a limited but still severe collective punishment on the Palestinian civilian population as the price for its militants’ activities. Moreover, the Israelis expect the Palestinian population to blame the militants for the Israeli punishment, and eventually to demand that the militants stop their attacks on the Israelis. Hamas knows it cannot defeat Israel militarily, but it also cannot let Israel pay no price for the continuation of the status quo.
Firing rockets is a signal to the Israelis that the Palestinians will not just passively (or non-violently) accept the current situation. The wild inaccuracy of Palestinian rockets is intentional. The rockets cause psychological angst for Israeli civilians and a political problem for the Israeli government, but they don’t kill many Israelis. If the rockets were more effective at killing, the Israelis would retaliate with overwhelming force. The intensity of the rocket firings is gauged to keep Israeli cost-benefit calculations for an escalated response or a full invasion below the threshold. Hence, it is inaccurate to say that Hamas wants to kill as many Israelis as possible. If that was the aim, they would choose other tactics.
Once Israel refused to lift the blockade on Gaza during the cease fire, Hamas had no choice but to up the ante. Their people were approaching destitution, just as Israel intended. Hamas needed to try and force Israel to negotiate an amelioration of the blockade, even if the odds of success were against them. To renew the ceasefire with the blockade still in full force would have irreparably eroded support for Hamas.
Armed with this analysis we can reject one of Wright’s conclusion. He writes,
"They also underscore the biases that had taken root in each camp: the Israeli belief that Hamas terrorists and the Gazan people were one and the same; the Gazan tendency to support any act of resistance against the Israelis, no matter how self-defeating it might be."
While the majority of Israelis probably do see Hamas and the Gazan people as one and the same, Gazans have been much more circumspect about supporting "any act of resistance." If one examines Palestinian polling since the Oslo accords, you will see that Palestinians’ approval of suicide bombings and other acts of violence have varied greatly over the period. As their situation has only worsened, Gazans in their desperation have been willing for all kinds of strategies to be tried, both violent and non-violent. All have been self-defeating. Until Wright and the Israelis can demonstrate to the Gazans an alternative other than surrender, Wright should be more careful in his judgements.
Wright’s letter from Gaza is not completely one-sided, but neither does it answer the question posed.
Richard Goldstone, head of Fact Finding Mission on Gaza
Although both sides in the December-January war were blamed in the report by Richard Goldstone, the UN findings put Israel on the spot for actions that claimed the lives of at least 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, according to UN figures.
"The reactions in the international community were very mixed, but the lukewarm from the United States disappointed me," Goldstone told das Parlament, a weekly political newspaper published by Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.
"The fact that the reactions from Israel were so violent really surprised me at times," he added, according to Reuters. "I had hoped that our call to take legal steps and pursue people at a national level would fall on more open ears."
On Friday, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that calls on Israel and the Palestinians to investigate the alleged war crimes.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Norwegian prosecutors have dropped a case alleging war crimes by 10 Israeli leaders during last winter’s Gaza military campaign.
Chief prosecutor Siri Frigaard said Friday she is dismissing the complaint, lodged on April 22 by a group of lawyers under Norway's universal jurisdiction law, because "there is no good reason" for Norwegian authorities to investigate further and Norway should be judicious in deciding when to investigate alleged war crimes by individuals with no connection to the country.
The 2008 jurisdiction law allows foreigners to face charges in Norway for war crimes committed anywhere in the world.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni were among the Israelis named.
The decision comes a day after the United Nations General Assembly, with Norway abstaining from the vote, endorsed the Goldstone Report. The report alleges war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the Gaza war and recommends independent investigations into the charges.
Zionist massacres, 1948-2009. This is what Israel thinks of peace...
November 07, 2009
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The UN Security Council will begin discussions of the Goldstone report "as soon as possible," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.
"As requested by the General Assembly, I will transmit the report of the Fact Finding Mission to the Security Council," he told reporters in Kabul. "I would strongly urge the parties concerned to engage, without preconditions, to discuss this matter."
His announcement followed Thursday's overwhelming majority decision by members of the General Assembly to pass a resolution calling first for the endorsement of the report's call for independent investigations on alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes under the supervision of the secretary-general, and second for the report to be taken up to the Security Council.
General Assembly President Ali Treki urged all sides to conduct credible investigations. "The world is united on human rights," he said. "The vote was a strong declaration against impunity, and in support of justice and accountability."
"While the General Assembly has fulfilled its responsibility and will remain seized over the matter, it is vital that all concerned now devote efforts to implement the resolution and ensure follow up," he added.
Israel is still expected to declare its readiness to conduct investigations, he said, although the country has rejected the resolution. Nonetheless, Treki expressed hope that the Israeli government would respond positively to the resolution and conduct investigations.
He said a request to Israel had been made to conduct credible investigations, in accordance with international standards, to get to the bottom of the charges detailed by the report. Although it has rejected the resolution, Treki expressed hope that the Israeli government would eventually come around and embrace the resolution's terms.
The Palestinian side has been requested to do the same, he noted, within a three-month period. The de facto government in the Gaza Strip vowed, via Egypt, to take the allegations seriously and conduct an impartial investigation.
Taking questions, first on the follow-up he expected from the Security Council, Treki said it was extremely important that an overwhelming majority of states voted in support of the Human Rights Council report and of Goldstone.
He expressed hope that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention would hold a meeting, with the participation of international experts, that would take into account a report prepared by the Arab League, as well as other facts unearthed by European investigators and independent parties. Importantly, the Swiss government, as depositary of the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, agreed to the assembly's request to study the Gaza findings, he said, particularly on the use of certain weapons.
"This would be extremely helpful in determining the facts of the situation and serve the search for peace," he said. It was important for peace talks to resume, he said, once measures agreed by the Quartet had been implemented and settlement activities halted.
Asked whether he thought any further action would be taken by the Security Council or the International Criminal Court, he said that the council was the "master of its own decisions." Noting its responsibility to maintain international peace and security, and to protect human rights, he said the council would have a role to play. "I hope it will rise up to that responsibility."
To a question on whether it would have been important for the assembly to have garnered more votes on the resolution, if it had conceded to the European Union's request to change the word "endorse" to the word "welcome" in reference to the Human Rights Council report, he said the text's co-sponsors, which had led the negotiations, could address that.
Voting for the resolution were 114 countries, including China, Russia, and Arab and non-aligned states, as well as some South American and European countries. Eighteen voted against, including Israel, the US, Canada, Italy and Australia, while 44 abstained, including most EU nations, including France and the UK. General Assembly resolutions are non-binding.
November 06, 2009
A 575-page blistering report by Justice Richard Goldstone detailing war crimes in Gaza last December is refusing to die despite an aggressive Israeli smear campaign to kill it.
The report, which was favorably voted by the 47-member Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, received overwhelming support Thursday in the 192-member General Assembly.
The vote was 114 in favor and 18 against, with 44 abstentions.
The 18 countries that voted against the resolution included the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Israel.
Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, singled out Ireland, one of the few Western nations to vote for the resolution, for "supporting" it.
He also noted that a "sizeable number of European nations" abstained on the resolution.
Among the abstentions were Britain, France, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Denmark and Greece.
"The General Assembly sent a powerful message," he told reporters, adding that if Israelis do not comply, "We will go after them."
The Assembly requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report within three months on the implementation of the resolution.
Among other things, the resolution calls upon both the Israelis and the Palestinians to undertake independent investigations of their own on the serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws during the 22-day conflict in Gaza in December.
Still, Mansour said he rejects any equation of the "occupying power’s aggression and crimes with actions committed in response by the Palestinian side".
"We wish to clearly reaffirm that there is absolutely no symmetry or proportionality between the occupier and the occupied," he added.
U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff rejected the Goldstone report as "deeply flawed" and "unbalanced".
He said the United States was fully committed to a two-state solution – Israel and Palestine – and will do nothing to hinder it.
Last month, the 15-member Security Council debated the report but refused to take a vote primarily because of the opposition by the United States, a veto-wielding member of the Council.
In Geneva, the Human Rights Council endorsed the report last month by a vote of 25 in favor, six against, 11 abstentions and five no-shows.
The report was also the subject of a vote Tuesday by the U.S. House of Representatives, traditionally sympathetic towards Israel. That vote, condemning the report, was 344 in favor and 36 against.
Nadia Hijab, senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, told IPS the importance of the Goldstone Report is evident given the amount of effort Israel, the United States and their allies are investing in trying to bury it.
She said irrespective of the strength or weakness of the General Assembly resolution, the report is important because of its very existence.
Not only does it provide an authoritative basis for Palestinians seeking reparations and accountability, but it also puts the world on notice that international law must be upheld and impunity must end, she said.
"It’s simply not going to go away," said Hijab.
The report, authored by a four-member international fact-finding mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, details war crimes charges against both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The mission, and specifically Goldstone, has been politically crucified by pro-Israeli groups in the United States.
The U.N. mission recommended that the Security Council require Israel to report to it, within the next six months, on investigations and prosecutions it should carry out with regard to the violations cited in the report.
During the ruthless military operation, codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ the Israelis destroyed houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations and other public buildings.
The number of Palestinian killed during the conflict is estimated at between 1,387 and 1,417, mostly civilians, compared with four Israeli fatal casualties in southern Israel and nine soldiers killed during fighting, four of whom died as a result of friendly fire.
The report also recommended that the Security Council set up its own body of independent experts to report to it on the progress of the Israeli investigations and prosecutions.
"If the expert’s reports do not indicate within six months that good faith, independent proceedings are taking place, the Security Council should refer the situation in Gaza to the Prosecutor in the International Criminal Court (ICC)," the report recommended.
Hijab told IPS the Goldstone Report has already had an impact on the Israeli-Palestinian scene.
"It will ensure that henceforth the Israeli state as well as Palestinian armed groups are more careful about the use of force," she said.
In addition, she said, the initial misguided attempt by the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to "postpone" consideration has strengthened the hand of political parties and civil society in setting limits on how far the PA/PLO can go in their alliance with the U.S. and its erosion of Palestinian human rights.
In short, the Goldstone Report has had a significance before it even reached the General Assembly, and it continues to be discussed the world over, Hijab declared.
November 05, 2009
By Eli Clifton - November 4, 2009
While House Resolution (HR) 867 condemning the Goldstone report passed 344-36 yesterday evening, members of the Israeli and American Jewish far-right held court on Capitol Hill at “The Jerusalem Conference”.
The event brought together some of the most hawkish American and Israeli voices to both issue their own condemnation of the Goldstone report and warn once more of the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.
Perhaps more important than what the speakers said—which rarely strayed from the anti-Goldstone, pro-Iran-sanctions line—was who the right-wing, pro-Israel organizers succeeded in attracting to their six hour conference. The speakers list alone was a statement of the group’s continued political muscle in Washington.
Co-sponsors of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), and the Committee’s Ranking Republican, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), as well as the co-sponsors of the Senate counterpart, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Sam Brownback, filled out the first half of the program which focused on “Jerusalem-Protecting Its Remarkable Past and Future” and “Realities of the Middle East Process.”
Brownback got a standing ovation for announcing his intention to (re)introduce his Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 2009 Wednesday, only this time, he promised, the waiver provision that both Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush used to prevent the Act from actually being implemented — it would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — will be removed.
The US legislators in the first half of the program–who bolstered their already impressive numbers with a “surprise” appearance by Sen. Daniel Innouye (D-HI) who spoke of his efforts to increase American aid to Israel–were balanced out by Israeli Cabinet Minister Yossi Peled, Israeli MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), and Lt. Colonel Jonathan D. Halevi. Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, who skipped the much larger J Street Conference last week, was scheduled to speak but scheduling constraints forced him to send a representative from the embassy in his place.
At the heart of the conference was the dual theme of condemning the Goldstone report and touting the various pending bills that would impose “crippling” sanctions against Iran if it did not abandon its nuclear program.
“In (both) Fallujah and in Gaza approximately 1000 terrorists were killed and in Fallujah approximately 6,000 civilians were killed,” extolled Ken Abramowitz, Managing General Partner of NGN Capital in New York and one of the Conference’s moderators. “And in Gaza three or four hundred (were killed), so I think it’s fair to say that in the operation in Gaza, Israel demonstrated the lowest level of civilian deaths per military deaths in the history of warfare in the history of the world. And it was criticized even though it exceeded the standard that no other army in the history of armies ever reached. So it’s just pure anti-Semitism,” he declared before entertaining questions for Lt. Col. (IDF res.) Jonathan D. Halevi, who had had himself extolled the exceptional morality of Israel’s conduct of the Gaza war in contradiction to the war crimes detailed in the Goldstone report.
Needless to say the audience which gathered for the conference did not choose to question the numbers thrown around by Abramowitz, nor did they, for that matter, question why neither the session on the war nor that on the (non-existent) peace process featured even one Palestinian speaker or discussant.
(Note: As reported in the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem estimated the civilian death toll in Gaza at 774.)
While Goldstone “debunking” was a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, the certainty of its condemnation by the House in Tuesday’s vote detracted somewhat from the dramatic tension. On the other hand, the specter of a nuclear Iran held the crowd in thrall, as speaker after speaker insisted that action was more urgent than ever.
“Don’t wait (to impose sanctions)… Use existing authority right now within the executive branch,” demanded Casey. “Be it the Treasury Department, or other ways to provide the kind of pressure that I think has to be applied to the regime!”
The third panel of the day, sponsored by the missile-defense-promoting Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), focused predictably on missile defense and was headlined by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AR), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV).
“We have no greater ally in the region than Israel, and it is in the interest of our own national security to stand with Israel,” Inhofe said. “This partnership is not a one-sided relationship. Israel has provided the United States military with invaluable technology such as the Hunter UAV, Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles, and the Lightning Pod. Our nation must maintain a close relationship with our friends in Israel, despite the fact that the current administration has demonstrated a willingness to work with those that stand opposed to Israel.”
“Today’s news that Hamas has used Iranian technology to improve their missile capabilities proves that we need a strong missile defense system that protects our allies, and more importantly, provides greater protection for the United States,” he continued. “The same enemies that threaten the existence of Israel also want to destroy America. Over the years, the United States has greatly benefited from cooperation with Israel on missile defense technologies, and we should continue this partnership. Instead, President Obama has cut funding for our missile defense systems, and ended the Third Site in Poland. Such action by the Obama administration puts the United States and our allies like Israel at greater risk.”
The Israeli perspective was represented by Israeli Cabinet Minister Yossi Peled, and Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser.
The final session of the day, ‘’Regional Threats to Global Security,’’ was headlined by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Israeli Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
While speakers stayed on the relatively safe topics of Goldstone, Iran sanctions, and missile defense, the most noticeable element was the scheduled appearances of thirteen US senators or representatives (plus Daniel Innouye) during the six-hour conference. Between the decidedly one-sided vote on HR 867 condemning the Goldstone report and the display of political power reflected by the Jerusalem Conference’s speaker list, Tuesday was a day when the right-wing, pro-Israel lobby was shown at full-force on Capitol Hill.
November 04, 2009
November 4, 2009
Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman of ADL called on Goldstone to repudiate his report: "I have had great respect for you over the years. Your work at the head of the South Africa Reconciliation Commission and in helping to find a just solution to the Bosnian conflict deserves the highest commendation.
"Moreover, I know you to be a proud Jew who serves on the Board of Trustees of Hebrew University and who has a daughter living in Israel."
"With this background, I wondered in the first place how you could take on the chairmanship of the investigation of the war in Gaza mandated by the UN Human Rights Council," he said. "After all, the Human Rights Council has repeatedly demonstrated its bias against Israel and in its stated mission for the investigation began with assumptions presuming Israeli guilt."
1. The 1st anniversary of the Israeli war against Gaza
Almost one year ago, Israel started yet another "war until the end" against the Palestinians, as it was presented by its minister of defence, Ehud Barak, at the end of December 2008. Although the wild bombing over Gaza ended in mid January 2009, the war is not over. It has several fronts and not all combatants shoot from a tank rolling through the Strip. Thousands of kilometres away, some people close ranks with Israel , some with the Palestinians.
The recently published Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, widely known by the name of its leader, Richard Goldstone, devotes almost six hundred pages to the crimes committed by Israel during the war. It also deals with human rights in Palestine .
The table of contents shows the enormity of the crimes committed by Israel and explains worldwide popular demand about taking those responsible to a criminal court: indiscriminate attacks, deliberate attacks against the civilian population, use of certain weapons, destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, use of civilians as human shields, use of excessive or lethal force, Palestinians prisoners in Israel jails (1)
2. The other soldiers in the war against the Palestinians: the friends of Israel
It is no secret that Israel has realised that the usually sleepy world public opinion has woke up alarmed by the barbarism that took place in Gaza against a largely unarmed and exhausted population after months of a merciless blockade.
Accordingly, the Israeli government quickly launched a large damage control operation to restore the –once again- tarnished image of its army, in order to try and justify the savage deeds by its soldiers, who followed the orders of their military commanders, who in turn followed the orders of the two highest civilian commanders, the ministry of defence and the prime minister.
In mid October, the Spanish prime minister, Rodríguez Zapatero paid a visit to his Israeli counterpart, Netanyahu, and had the chance to meet with the president, Shimon Peres. On October 15, the Spanish paper of record El País wrote: "Peres thanked [Zapatero] for the legal reform launched by his government in order to prevent the National Court to deal with crimes allegedly committed by the Israeli Army. These words contradict the Spanish government version, which states that the reform of the criminal law dealing with universal jurisdiction simply aimed to increase its effectiveness" (2).
However, gratitude does not come easy from Israel . It is a standard procedure amongst its leaders and ambassadors to regularly demand proof of loyalty from the leaders of "friendly" countries. The same prime minister who is welcome these days in Israel , was reprimanded some days earlier by the Zionist ambassador in Madrid : " Israel will convey to Zapatero its discomfort for the increase of anti-Semitism in Spain ".
Zapatero’s government was also reprimanded some months before for the same sin and, "according to the [Israeli] ambassador’s opinion, the government has taken important steps to combat it, such as the establishment of the Casa Sefarad (Sefarad House), but still a bigger effort is required." (3)
In this amazing occasion, July 20, 2006, "during a breakfast organised by the Foro Nueva Economía (New Economy Forum), with Moratinos as the guest speaker, [the Jewish entrepeneur] Hatchwell expressed 'the indignation’ felt by Spanish Jews because of some statements made by Zapatero on the eve of the breakfast. ´These are anti-Israeli and anti-Semite statements and we can not accept them’".
Questioned about this by the Spanish press, the Israeli ambassador reminded the Spanish government that "the relationship [between Spain and Israel ], although we are celebrating its twentieth anniversary, it is not at its best. There is a very strong criticism, very unjust against Israel , this is contrary to the European Union consensus". (4)
Israel knows how to make a friendly president even friendlier. At a time when even some Jewish people criticise Israel for its war against Gaza, and millions of people from all walks of life ask for international action to end the siege of Gaza, the incoming president of the European Union, Zapatero, will welcome Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak in Madrid on November 4th.
Now that Barak can visit Spain without fear of being prosecuted for his role in the Gaza war, he will take advantage of the law amendment to sign a new and upgraded military cooperation agreement with Zapatero. Spain will somehow become a partner in the next Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
What about president Abu Mazen? He has made clear that Spain is a friend of the Palestinians. No problem. Zapatero will soon send him some money and security personnel to train Palestinian policemen, and later on some trucks with band aids, crutches, tents and canned food just in case.
3. Popular reaction against the pro-Zionist role of the Spanish government: BDS
Despite the efforts made by the Israeli embassy in Madrid through its propaganda agents, in order to try and change Spaniards’ opinion about the Palestinian conflict, which is contrary to its government position, people resist –as it happens all over the world.
With that aim, Israeli agents attend political, social and cultural acts, participate in TV shows, lectures and conferences, write in newspapers and establish educational, social and economic links with Spanish civil servants, journalists and businessmen.
Casa Sefarad-Israel is the flagship. The house is "a public institution established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Madrid Autonomous Government and Madrid Townhall." (5)
In other words, several Spanish authorities collect citizens’ money via taxes and the Israeli government takes some it to try and convince these that in Israel "coexists dozens of nationalities, languages, religions and races", according to the house information. (6)
Not everything is lost. With this enormous Hasbara effort, Israel is also clearly saying that it has not only failed in its military campaign against Gaza, but that it has also failed to convince people that it was a defensive war and that Israel is acting in favour of international law, peace with its neighbours, and the human rights of people living in Palestine.
The answer of the Spaniards who question Israeli actions, indeed its place in the international community, is increasingly to join the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign –BDS- and make it grow in Spain . This is the best way to show both support for the Palestinian cause and contempt for its oppressors.
November 03, 2009
November 3, 2009
Before House Members vote on H.Res. 867, regarding the U.N. Goldstone report on the Gaza conflict, there are a few questions worth asking.
First, why are we bringing this resolution to the floor without ever giving former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone a hearing to explain his findings? Have those who will vote on H.Res. 867 actually read the resolution? Have they read the Goldstone report? Are they aware that Justice Goldstone has issued a paragraph by paragraph response, available on my Web site at www.baird.house.gov, to H.Res. 867 pointing out that many of its assertions are factually inaccurate or deeply misleading?
Since scarcely a dozen House Members have actually been to Gaza, what actual first-hand knowledge do the rest of the Members of Congress possess on which to base their judgment of the merits of H.Res. 867 or the Goldstone report?
What will it say about this Congress and our country if we so readily seek to block "any further consideration" of a human rights investigation produced by one of the most respected jurists in the world today, a man who led the investigations of abuses in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Kosovo and worked to identify and prosecute Nazi war criminals as a member of the Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina?
As one of the first two American officials, along with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), to enter Gaza shortly after the conclusion of major bombing from "Operation Cast Lead," then again several months later, I have seen firsthand the devastating destruction of hospitals, schools, homes, industries and infrastructure. Much of that devastation was wrought using U.S. manufactured and paid for weaponry. I have also spoken with health workers, average Gazans, NGO relief workers and many others.
In addition, I have been to the Israeli town of Sderot, which has been the target of repeated rocket attacks, and to a number of Palestinian towns and Israel settlements in the West bank. Colleagues who have not been to the region may wish to view some of the images and interviews from these visits on my Web site.
With the information from these personal visits and on the ground knowledge, I read with care and interest the Goldstone report in its entirety and my firm conclusion is that, although the findings may be unpleasant and troubling, they are, unfortunately, consistent with the facts and evidence. In my judgment, far from meriting the obstruction called for in H.Res. 867, the Goldstone report is without question worthy of further investigation.
I know this conclusion is not easily accepted and I know it raises serious charges against entities and individuals on both sides of this conflict, Israel and Hamas. But if our own country is truly to stand for human rights and the rule of law, and if facts matter, how can we do other than insist that legitimate questions and evidence are followed by further investigation and, if necessary and warranted, appropriate consequences?
H.Res. 867 is very serious business. If, as Goldstone asserts and the evidence I have seen supports, there were in fact gross violations of international law and human rights on all sides, we cannot in good conscience support H.Res. 867.
This is about much more than just another imposed political litmus test that we are all too often asked to perform. This is about whether we as individuals and this Congress as an institution find it acceptable to drop white phosphorous on civilian targets, to rocket civilian communities, to destroy hospitals and schools, to use civilians as human shields, to deliberately destroy non-military factories, industries and basic water, electrical and sanitation infrastructure. This is about whether it is acceptable to restrict the movement, opportunities and hopes of more than a million people every single day.
At the end of the day, this is also about our own domestic security. If we are seen internationally as condoning violations of human rights and international law, if our money and our weaponry play a leading role in those violations, and if we reflexively obstruct the findings of someone with the credentials, history and integrity of Justice Goldstone, it can only diminish our international standing and our own security.
Rep. Brian Baird (D) represents Washington's 3rd district.
Click here to read Justice Goldstone's response to the resolution
November 01, 2009
November 1, 2009
Efforts to prosecute those who may have committed war crimes in Israel's war on Gaza have spread beyond the Middle East.
Lawyers say the docket contains evidence that South Africans took part in the fighting.
"We've identified about 75 South Africans who we believe served in the IDF at one point or the other," Boda says.
"We believe that there is prima facae evidence against all of them. We have informants from South African police stations, whose identity we are currently protecting for their safety, who have pinpointed which of their fellow South African police force reservists went to Gaza to fight in the war. We have pictorial evidence as well."
Feroze Boda, based in Johannesburg and working on behalf of two local pro-Palestinian organisations, says the soldiers should face court action for their involvement.
Imran Garda reports from Johannesburg.
October 30, 2009
ISLAMABAD - (Xinhua) - Chief of Taliban movement in Pakistan Hakimullah Mehsud has blamed the controversial American private firm Blackwater for the bomb blast in Peshawar which killed 108 people, local news agency NNI reported Thursday.
The bomb exploded at a crowded market at Chowk Yadgar on Wednesday, also injured 150 people.
Hakimullah Mehsud told media that if Taliban can carry out attacks in Islamabad and target Pakistan army's headquarters, then why they should target general public.
He claimed that American security agency Blackwater and Pakistani agencies are involved in attacks in public places to blame the militants.
When asked that the people also think that the militants are involved in such attacks, the Taliban leader was quoted as saying, "Our war is against the government and the security forces and not against the people. We are not involved in blasts."
Azam Tariq, the Taliban spokesman, who was accompanying Hakimullah, warned that those media organizations could be targeted which are defaming Taliban.
Information Minister in Northwest Frontier Province Mian Iftikhar Hussain and the Pakistani army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas had blamed militants for the Peshawar blast, saying that the militants are facing defeat in South Waziristan tribal region and are now targeting the people.
October 29, 2009
By Nick Mathiason - guardian.co.uk - October 29, 2009
The deadly trade in cluster bombs is funded by the world's biggest banks who have loaned or arranged finance worth $20bn (£12.5bn) to firms producing the controversial weapons, despite growing international efforts to ban them.
HSBC, led by ordained Anglican priest Stephen Green, has profited more than any other institution from companies that manufacture cluster bombs. The British bank, based at Canary Wharf, has earned a total of £657.3m in fees arranging bonds and share offerings for Textron, which makes cluster munitions described by the US company as "leaving a clean battlefield".
Campaigners maintain the deadly weapons can explode years after combat, killing or maiming innocent people.
HSBC will face protests outside its London headquarters today. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan and UK-based Barclays Bank are also named among the worst banks in a detailed 126-page report by Dutch and Belgian campaign groups IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen.
Goldman Sachs, the US bank which made £3.19bn proft in just three months, earned $588.82m for bank services and lent $250m to Alliant Techsystems and Textron.
Of the banks named, only Barclays was prepared to comment. It said: "Barclays group provides financial services to the defence sector within a specific policy framework. It is our policy not to finance trade in nuclear, chemical, biological or other weapons of mass destruction.
"Our policy also explicitly prohibits financing trade in landmines, cluster bombs or any equipment designed to be used as an instrument of torture." A spokeswoman added that Barclays had supplied money to Textron, which makes cluster bombs, but that the US firm was a broad-based weapons manufacturer.
Last December 90 countries, including the UK, committed themselves to banning cluster bombs by next year. But the US was not one of them. So far 23 countries have ratified the convention. The UK has yet to do so, but the Foreign Office confirmed that it would form part of the government's legislative programme before the next election.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the tightest export control order had been placed on cluster bombs, which extended to banks supplying money to manufacturers. The government was aware the control order was not working and "is working on it".
Esther Vandenbroucke, of Netwerk Vlaanderen and one of the report's authors, said: "The responsibility to ban cluster munitions is a shared responsibility. It requires courage, and it requires an effort. We are just months away from an international treaty entering into force and it is time for signatory states to the Convention on Cluster Munitions for non-signatory states and for financial institutions to act now."
Last December, the New Zealand government's pension fund sold shares in Lockheed Martin because of its link to the manufacture of cluster bombs. Similar actions have been taken by the Irish and Dutch governments.
Millions of people will be endangered by up to tens of millions of cluster bomblets that have not yet exploded, causing lasting economic and social harm to communities in more than 20 countries for decades to come, campaigners have warned. The vast majority of cluster bomb casualties occur while victims are carrying on their daily lives.
On Monday, a Lebanese 20-year-old man had his leg amputated after a cluster bomb exploded in southern Lebanon Houla village. A security source said he was collecting wood in his border village when the explosion occurred.
The Israeli army made extensisve use of cluster bombs during the war in south Lebanon three years ago. Cluster bombs were most recently used by both the Georgians and the Russians in the dispute over South Ossetia. They were also used in the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions.
London - IRNA - 10/28/09 - A total of 63 people are due to appear in court later this week on charges arising out of demonstrations in London against Israel’s slaughter of over 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza at the turn of the year.
Most are charged under the country’s Public Order Act with using or threatening violence during two mass protest marches in January that culminated at the Israeli Embassy.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, all the cases will be heard at West London Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and Friday. Police were said to be still seeking another 17 people in connection with incidents that occurred.
The protests were parts of nationwide demonstrations, marches and rallies held around the UK at the height of Israel’s latest blitzkrieg attacks on Gaza.
Violence occurred at the embassy during clashes with anti-riot police. Several protesters complained to the Muslim News about the intimidation provoked by police charging the protest march in a tunnel on the way to the embassy.
October 28, 2009
While Richard Goldstone deserves credit for publishing a fair report about Israel’s war crime during its assault on Gaza — especially in light of the storm of vilification that he has had to endure — one need not be so swayed as to exempt him claims from scrutiny. There are serious problems with his interpretation of International law, and far from being too critical of Israel, he is too generous.
In this interview Goldstone makes the tendentious claim that jus in bello, that is conduct during war, is unrelated to jus ad bellum, the justness of the war. He in fact goes so far as to claim that ‘it was a given’ that Israel had a right to attack Gaza. He makes this claim despite stating before hand that it wasn’t his remit to investigate jus ad bellum. This is therefore an astonishing statement to make for someone even remotely familiar with international law. Before one can consider jus in bello, the conditions for jus ad bello need to be satisfied. That is to say that before you investigate conduct you have to make sure that the war was just. And if this wasn’t the case — and it wasn’t — then Israel is responsible for launching a war of aggression, the ’supreme crime’ in international law. This also means that Israel bears the responsibility even for the violations of human rights carried out by Hamas because the supreme crime carries within it the accumulated evil of all that follows. For more on this, see my detailed argument in this earlier article.
Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi talks to Judge Richard Goldstone about the investigation into the Gaza war. He travelled to the United Nations in New York to find out if the war on Gaza has transformed Richard Goldstone from a sober jurist into a man on a mission to discredit Israel on an international stage.
October 27, 2009
The following press release was issued by the London School of Economics Student Union Palestine Society on 26 October 2009:
Students protested and disrupted a lecture tonight at the London School of Economics (LSE) by Daniel Ayalon, the controversial Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel.
More than 50 students and activists greeted Ayalon outside of the lecture on LSE's campus with placards and banners, while inside audience members heckled the controversial minister as a "racist" and "murderer" in relation to the illegal occupation and violence carried out by the Israeli state.
Ayalon was in the UK to meet British government officials and speaking at the LSE ahead of these talks in a lecture titled "The Middle East: The View From Israel." Security at the university was tight, with private security and police officers keeping a close watch on protesters. The minister began and ended his lecture amid boos and chants of "Free, Free, Palestine" while his speech was interrupted relentlessly throughout with audience members questioning Israel's atrocities.
The action was organized by the LSE Students' Union Palestine Society and the Palestine Solidarity Initiative. The London School of Economics Students' Union is officially twinned with An-Najah University [West Bank] and has previously voted to divest funds from those companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The motion also called on LSE to respect human rights and follow suit in embracing a divestment agenda with regards to such companies.
Mira Hammad who attended the lecture and is the Chair of the LSE SU Palestine Society said after the protest, "The Palestine Society at LSE has grown in support since the atrocities committed in Gaza which explains the huge turnout tonight. We will continue to support the growing international resistance against the occupation of Palestine until a just peace is achieved."
Merna Al Azzeh, a Palestinian masters student who was in the audience, added, "As an LSE student, I find it disgusting that LSE could invite a Minister to speak from a racist government that has been committing war crimes for the last 60 years."
"The recent Goldstone Report overwhelmingly condemns the genocide waged against Gazan civilians last winter and as a Palestinian I am reassured by the growing international resistance to Israeli apartheid."
October 24, 2009
In a statement released on Saturday, the fighters said they captured two military camps along with all their equipment in the town of Al-Razih.
The Houthi statement also said that the government continues to target residential areas in the Northern Province, leaving dozens killed and wounded.
According to the statement, the military planes targeted a crowded market in the Shaaf area of Saada Province, killing several people and wounding others.
Four civilians have sustained critical wounds, the report said.
The military planes also attacked two other markets in Al-Razih and Sahar in Saada Province, destroying many shops and buildings in the area.
In al-Iqab, army troops along with an armed vehicle attempted to take the control of the Samaa base; they, however, failed and their armed vehicle was destroyed.
According to the statement, targeting civilians has only led to the strengthening of the people's solidarity and encouraged them to resist tyranny.
The fighters, led by Abdul-Malek al-Huthi, have been engaged in fierce fighting with government since the army launched 'Operation Scorched Earth' on August 11.
The government accuses fighters of seeking to restore a religious leadership in the northern areas that was overthrown in 1962.
The Houthis, however, say they want more autonomy, a halt in alleged Saudi-backed efforts to cause regional insecurity and to impose Wahabism in the region as well as an end to discrimination against their people.