Tagged: Gaza

Did Israel shoot down civilians carrying white flags in Gaza?


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.

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Israeli soldiers breaking silence on Gaza war crimes

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.

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Israel seizes aid ship off coast of Gaza


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.

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Gaza aid appeal blacklisted by BBC and Sky-TV

gaza

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.

Israeli troops used phosphorus shells in Gaza


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.

Enough. It’s time for a boycott against Israel.


Daylife/Reuters Pictures

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…

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Red Cross says Israel ignores wounded civilians


Survivors of the Srebrenica Massacre protest before the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

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.

Israelis kill 42 at U.N. school

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.

Tel Aviv rally opposes Gaza invasion


Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

Amid cries of “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!” and banners reading, “Enough!” thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest against the country’s war on Gaza.

Organisers, a coalition of groups such as Gush Shalom, the Hadash party and the Coalition of Women for Peace, were encouraged by the turnout.

“We have experience from the last war, in Lebanon, and this time the public outcry is much quicker and much bigger,” said veteran Gush Shalom campaigner Uri Avnery.

It is a cynical war, for political reasons and people are very much aware of that.”

Palestinian-Israelis who demonstrated alongside Jewish co-nationalists waved the Palestinian flag, as police attempt to ban such a practice before the protest was overruled by the Israeli high court…

Some demonstrators were critical of the Hamas government in Gaza, but argued for a sense of balance.

“It is pathetic that Hamas provoked Israel,” said Ada Bilu, 46, from Jerusalem.

“But there is no proportion and no equality in the power relations, of what Israelis can do and what Palestinians can do. Gaza is a terrible place to live and Israel has a lot more responsibility for that than it would like to take.”

As Obama sits back and relies on his “one president at a time” mantra – the world realizes he’s unwilling to lead on a question critical to more of the world than American voters.

Protesters against Israeli bombing at Obama’s Hawaii compound


Daylife/Reuters Pictures

A small group of placard-waving pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered near U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s vacation retreat in Hawaii to protest against the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Obama has made no public comment on the strikes, which Israel launched on Saturday. Aides have repeatedly said he is monitoring the situation and continues to receive intelligence briefings but that there is only one U.S. president at a time.

But with outgoing Republican President George W. Bush already viewed as a lame-duck, many people, particularly in the Middle East, are looking past him to Obama, who is due to be sworn in on January 20, for leadership.

Obama did speak out after the attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in November in which gunmen killed nearly 180 people, condemning them as acts of terrorism…

“He is talking about how many jobs he is going to create but he is refusing to speak about this,” said one of the protesters, Carolyn Hadfield, 66.

She was one of eight protesters standing with placards reading “No U.S. support for Israel” and “Gazans need food and medicine, not war” near Obama’s rented vacation home in Kailua, an upmarket suburb on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he is in the second week of a vacation with his family…

In Washington, several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the State Department, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans such as “free Palestine” while police looked on but took no action.

Of course, that last sentence is a baldfaced lie. Anyone who thinks you can avail yourself of your constitutional rights to protest the policies of the government of the United States without being photographed, recorded on video, having your phone tapped and your employment verified – is an ignorant and self-deluded fool.

Reuters knows it. Ross Colvin knows it. It’s a journalistic convention to keep your mouth shut about it.

“It’s not part of the story!” But – it is.