Israeli border guards demonstrate their respect for civil dissent
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as a violation of the Geneva Conventions and called on the Israeli government to lift it.
The organisation called the blockade “collective punishment“, a crime under international law. It described Gaza as a territory plagued by frequent power cuts, a ruined economy, and a collapsed health care system…
“Gazans continue to suffer from unemployment, poverty and warfare, while the quality of Gaza’s health care system has reached an all-time low…”
Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, the head of the ICRC’s Middle East operations, told Al Jazeera that the organisation – which traditionally remains neutral – was reluctant to publicly criticise the blockade. But she said three years of quiet efforts to ease the embargo did not result in any progress.
“The result has not been what we expected, and we thought that after three years the situation was dire enough, serious enough, to speak out publicly to try to break this closure of Gaza,” she said…
In Luxembourg on Monday, foreign ministers from the European Union condemned the Gaza blockade as “unacceptable and counterproductive,” and called for immediate and unconditional opening of crossings for humanitarian aid…
B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, released its own report on Monday documenting dire conditions in the Palestinian territories. The group noted that 95 per cent of Gaza’s factories have closed, that 98 per cent of residents suffer from blackouts, and that 93 per cent of Gaza’s water is polluted…
Meanwhile, Congress and the White House works to maintain a special relationship founded in guilt from 3 or 4 generations ago.
If the U.S. government, today, lived up to the standards it admits to selling out – when 20 million Jews and Slavs, Eastern Europeans and Russians were being slaughtered by Nazi Germany – unconditional support of the Israeli government would come an immediate halt.
Children peering through hospital walls smashed in the last Israeli putsch
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
Aid agencies have strongly criticised the international community for failing to help bring an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
The charities made the accusation in a report published just ahead of the anniversary of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. They…condemn not just Israel, but the world community.
In the words of Oxfam’s director, Jeremy Hobbs, “world powers have failed and betrayed Gaza’s ordinary citizens“.
The charities call for more pressure to be exerted on Israel to end what they describe as its illegal collective punishment of Gazans.
A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister told the BBC that Israel remains committed to humanitarian supplies of food, medicine and power.
Just not committed to an adequate quantity – of those supplies. They starve the Gaza ghetto as the Nazis did to Warsaw.
But he said that sanctions will remain in place as long as Hamas is, as he put it, committed to destroying Israel and killing Israelis.
A “logic” that is equally offensive to anyone examining those sections of Zionist politics calling for the extermination of Arabs.
This 2-year-old is an obvious danger to Israel
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Israel must investigate the “unlawful” killing of 11 civilians carrying white flags during its Gaza operation earlier in 2009, Human Rights Watch has said.
Five women and four children were among those killed in seven incidents detailed by the US-based rights group. Researchers said the soldiers at best failed to protect civilians, and at worst deliberately shot at them…
In one incident, east of Jabalya, HRW said Israeli soldiers fired at two women and three children, three of whom were holding pieces of white cloth.
Two girls, aged two and seven were killed, and another, now aged four, was left paralysed below the waist.
The five were standing outside their home after an Israeli soldier had ordered them to leave it, HRW said.
“We spent seven to nine minutes waving the flags, and our faces were looking at them [the soldiers],” HRW quoted the girls’ grandmother as saying.
“And suddenly they opened fire and the girls fell to the ground…”
In five of the seven incidents, Israeli soldiers shot at civilians who were walking down the street with white flags, trying to leave the areas of fighting, HRW said.
“All available evidence indicates that Israeli forces were in control of the areas in question, no fighting was taking place there at the time, and no Palestinian forces were hiding among the civilians or using them as human shields,” the report said.
I realize that reports of Israel committing war crimes are nothing new – and I expect as little to come from this as usual – within the land and territory controlled by Israel. But, their continued violation of norms of civilized nations – while claiming to be one – puts the lie to all the rationales for military and fiscal aid delivered without question by Western nations. Like, the United States.
A human rights group founded by Israeli veterans has collected what it says are damning testimonies from soldiers who took part in the offensive in January against Hamas fighters in Gaza. BBC correspondent Paul Wood looks at the anonymous claims presented by Breaking the Silence.
Standing by the ruins of his home in Gaza, Majdi Abed Rabbo explained how Israeli troops had used him as a human shield.
“The Israeli soldiers handcuffed me and pointed the gun at my neck,” he said. “They controlled every step.”
In this manner, Mr Abed Rabbo said, he was forced to go in ahead of Israeli soldiers as they cleared houses containing Palestinian gunmen.
This same incident was described by one of the Israeli soldiers who spoke to Breaking the Silence…
The Israeli Supreme Court outlawed the so-called “neighbour policy”, of using Palestinians to shield advancing troops, in 2005.
Gosh. That was Mighty White of them.
Daylife/AP Photo by Sebastian Scheiner
The Israeli navy boarded a freighter trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip on Thursday and escorted it to the port of Ashdod where 20 passengers were being questioned, the military said.
It was the first apparent attempt by a foreign ship carrying aid to reach the Palestinian coastal enclave since Israel ended its 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.
A military official said humanitarian aid found on the ship would be transferred to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Video footage released by the army showed boxes piled up in one corner of the ship and no weapons were found.
Israel Radio said those aboard the Tali, a cargo vessel flying the flag of the West African state of Togo, would be returned by land to Lebanon, from where the ship sailed. The military official said the ship’s 20 passengers, including 10 journalists, were being questioned.
“Once the questioning is completed we will make a decision on their fate,” a military spokesman said.
The Israelis have plenty of experience at deciding the fate of civilians.
The usual crap excuses apply. Regardless, it still boils down to the gutting of BBC integrity by Blair – and right-wing business as usual from Murdoch and his Sky flunkys.
They could perform just the tiniest bit of good by allowing these appeals for aid on their networks. That is not as important as space under the sheets with reactionary politicians.
The light green 155mm shells are white phosphorus rounds
Israel has admitted — after facing mounting pressure — that its troops might have used banned white phosphorus shells during its three-week Gaza offensive. As the last Israeli troops left the Gaza Strip, the military said it would look at claims by the United Nations and human rights groups that it improperly used the munition, in contravention of international law.
In another repercussion of foreign condemnation of Israeli tactics, the military made an unprecedented decision on Wednesday to conceal the identities of field commanders who had been interviewed by the Israeli media. Military censors decided shortly before the airing and publication of the interviews that names would be withheld and faces blurred in television reports.
The decision results from concerns about attempts to pursue war crimes prosecutions against Israeli officials in foreign courts. During a visit to the Southern Command, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told soldiers that the Government would protect them “like a fortified wall” against potential prosecutions, according to news reports.
Nothing new about Israeli war crimes. The murder of thousands of civilians is always justified by Israeli politicians – and their loyal followers – who are convinced one Israeli life is worth dozens of Arabs. And the occupied land is worth even more.
It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa. In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”. The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.
Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause – even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. “The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves … This international backing must stop.”
Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can’t go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. But they simply aren’t good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tool in the non-violent arsenal: surrendering them verges on active complicity…
Survivors of the Srebrenica Massacre protest before the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo
The Red Cross has accused Israel of failing to fulfil its obligation to help wounded civilians in Gaza.
The first of what is promised to be a daily ceasefire – on Wednesday – allowed aid agencies into the territory for the first time in days.
The International Committee of the Red Cross accused Israel of failing in its international obligations after its staff were met with “shocking” scenes.
One medical team found 12 bodies in a shelled house, and alongside them four very young children, too weak to stand, waiting by their dead mothers, the ICRC said. Aid workers had been denied access to the site for days, it added.
“The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded.”
Meanwhile Amnesty International accused both sides of using civilians as human shields. “Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position”.
The only shock is that the Red Cross spoke out. They work so hard at maintaining access to disaster scenes, their policy is to continue in silence as long as possible. There had to be flagrant departure from accepted standards to prompt this criticism.
The whole world is watching.
There are too many photos of women and children murdered by Israel. I can’t bear to put another one here.
Israeli shelling killed more than 40 Palestinians Tuesday at a U.N. school where civilians had taken shelter, medical officials said, in carnage likely to boost international pressure on Israel to halt a Gaza invasion…
People cut down by shrapnel lay in pools of blood in the street. Witnesses said two shells exploded outside the school, killing at least 42 civilians and wounding dozens among people who had taken refuge there and residents of nearby buildings.
It took the Palestinian death toll in 11 days of violence to over 600 and prompted U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to break his silence on the offensive, to say the loss of life among civilians was “a source of deep concern” for him…
No, I don’t expect any progressive change from the new Democrat administration – when it come to Israel. Whichever right-wing cabal is in power in Israel will call the tune. American politicians will dance, dance, dance.
A senior U.N. official in Gaza said 350 people had been sheltering at the Fakhora school and the United Nations regularly gave the Israeli army exact geographical coordinates of its facilities to try to keep them safe from attack…
In a separate attack earlier in the day, three Palestinians were killed in an air strike on another school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
Once again, the criminal massacre of Jews by Nazis a half-century ago is supposed to counter the jackboot politics of Israeli Lebensraum.
It’s just as likely that the Israeli military deliberately targeted the facility because of its ties to the United Nations.