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“I hope that I die on my land”

Jody McIntyre writing from Bilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 4 January 2010

Fatima Yassin watches looks on as Israeli occupation soldiers prepare to invade her home in Bilin. (Hamde Abu Rahme)

Fatima Mohammed Yassin, 49, is a farmer from the Palestinian village of Bilin in the occupied West Bank. In spite of Israel’s occupation and construction of its wall in the West Bank, including on Bilin’s farm land, Yassin and her husband continue to work their land on a daily basis. Jody McIntyre spoke to her for The Electronic Intifada.

Jody McIntyre: Do you have land behind the wall?

Fatima Yassin: Yes, before Israel started construction of the wall in Bilin, my family had 45 dunams of land [1 dunam equals approximately 1,000 square meters], all of it filled with olive trees. My husband’s family had 50 dunams, which were a mixture of olive groves and vegetable patches, as well as another 50 dunams of land that was stolen after 1967 [Israel's occupation of the West Bank began after the June 1967 war].

When the Israeli army was building the wall on our land, they stole land from many people, but only on my husband’s land did they steal his olive trees as well! We still go to our land every day to plant vegetables and look after the soil, because we will not allow the Israeli government or the settlers to claim that our land is unused. If we don’t go to our land, they will say it is unneeded and confiscate it so that they can expand the settlements, which are already built illegally on our land.

JM: Does the Israeli army create problems when you try to go to your land?

FY: Yes, sometimes they don’t allow us to enter, but my husband and I will wait at the gate for one hour or two hours; if they don’t let us through we will stay there from the morning until the evening. We won’t go home until they let us go to our land. The soldiers once told us that it was illegal for us to go to our land and that we should go back home, but I simply replied, “I don’t want to go home, I want to go to look after my land.” Sometimes when our sons come to help us on the land the soldiers beat them or try to arrest them. We’ve had these problems many, many times, but in spite of this, we will not stop resisting this occupation. We are not afraid.

JM: Do the settlers create problems when you are on your land?

FY: Yes, they came and set fire to a small room that the people from Bilin built behind the wall — [they did this] four times. One of the times, I had just gone to make coffee for my husband — they were watching me and when I left went they went in and set the fire. But every time they damaged the room, we went to fix it again.

JM: How did you feel when you first heard Israel wanted to build the wall in Bilin?

FY: Everyone was angry when they heard the news, and sad because we knew it was a ploy to steal our land, so we started to protest against the construction of the wall. The first time we heard that it was being built, all the people from the village went to our land and said that we would fight against its confiscation by the Israeli army. We could see the bulldozers uprooting our trees. For the last five years we have been fighting against the wall, and for justice, and we will always continue.

JM: Do you attend the weekly demonstrations against the wall in Bilin?

FY: Yes, of course! My entire family goes to the demonstrations, me and my husband, our five daughters and our five sons. These demonstrations are our way of nonviolently resisting against the wall, the settlements and the confiscation of our land. We are not going out there to kill people, we are going to return to work on our land — to take back what they have stolen from us.

JM: Have any of your family been injured at the demonstrations?

FY: Of course! All my sons have been injured. The first one to be injured was Helme. He was injured at the very first demonstration we had in Bilin. [The Israeli army] shot him with a tear gas canister in the neck. After a few weeks, he was injured in the leg with the same weapon. A couple of months later he was arrested, becoming the first person to be arrested for our village. But even while in jail they couldn’t crush the rebellious spirit in his heart. [The prisoners] started a protest against the terrible conditions in the prison, and the soldiers shot Helme in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet.

My son Hamde was shot next, in the leg also with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and then Mustafa was shot with a tear gas canister. My youngest son, Mohammed, was just 14 years old at the time, and he was injured three times by rubber-coated steel bullets, twice in the legs and once in buttocks.

The last one to be injured was Khamis, my eldest son. He was shot in the head with a high-velocity tear gas canister, a new weapon at the time, and was left in a coma. I was very sad when they shot Khamis.

So all my sons have been shot in the demonstrations, but we will not stop until we return to our land.

JM: Has your house even been invaded by the Israeli army?

FY: The first night raid was at our house, when they arrested Helme. Our house is very close to the wall, so if there are any problems at the wall the army immediately comes to our home. Once they came during the day when I out working on my land, broke down the doors to my house, beat my daughters and arrested my 10-year-old nephew. He wasn’t wanted for anything.

The next time they came was to arrest my eldest son Khamis. As always, it was because he dared to nonviolently resist against the confiscation of his family’s land. Sometimes they come and don’t arrest anyone, just to harass us, to wake us up in the middle of the night and to intimidate us.

My son Hamde photographs the night raids, to show the world what is happening here in Bilin. Of course I am proud of what he is doing, but it makes me worry about him and I cannot sleep. I’m afraid that a soldier will shoot him or arrest him. I know that he has been beaten many times while taking photographs. The soldiers are very violent during the night raids, so I worry about him.

Another time, when Hamde was away, they invaded [the village] at night and stayed in our home for three hours. When I saw all my sons lined up outside, and the soldiers trying to beat them and joking together about when they had shot Khamis in the head, laughing about how he had nearly died in the hospital. When I heard them say this I passed out. When I woke up, I was lying in the hospital myself. Because Hamde was abroad, I was scared that they were looking for him and would arrest him at a checkpoint on his way back into the country.

Once they invaded the house in the day, and the army commander came over to me and said, “One day, I am going to come here with a bulldozer and destroy your house.” They came two days later and started searching the house, but they didn’t find anything — because we don’t have anything!

It’s like we can’t sleep during the day or at night now, because of the invasions. All we can do is sit awake.

JM: After all the oppression the people of Bilin have suffered at the hands of the Israeli army, do you think your campaign of nonviolent resistance can continue?

FY: Yes, we will certainly continue. My husband and I will continue to go to our land every day. We will go until the last moment. I hope that I die on my land.

Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled “Life on Wheels,” which can be found at www.ctrlaltshift.co.uk, where a version of this article was originally published. He can be reached at jody.mcintyre AT gmail DOT com.

Source

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Leave a comment

Biodiesel flickers out leaving investors burned

Written by Atheo | Aletho News | January 5, 2010
Andy Singer

The future of biodiesel fuel looks highly uncertain as federal tax credits that provided refiners $1 for every gallon produced expire with the new year. While many fleet vehicles have been manufactured to use the fuel, few will continue to do so since they are convertible to traditional fuel.

The National Biodiesel Board reports that the industry is currently operating at 15% of capacity. The largest US refinery, located in Houston, is sitting idle.

Prospects for extending the tax credit have been hampered by a major scandal involving Alabama’s Cello Energy, a “next-generation” biofuel company specializing in plants-to-fuel technology. A federal jury found that it had defrauded investors and ordered a $10.4 million payment for plaintiffs. Cello had claimed that it could produce $16/barrel fuel at its refinery using hay, switchgrass and wood chips. The Alabama Press-Register reports that “a string of witnesses testified that samples of the fuel allegedly produced at Cello’s facility… were derived entirely from fossil and not renewable sources”. Grassoline it was not. The EPA had been counting on a tripling of Cello’s refining operations to meet 70% of its target of 100 million gallons for 2010 production. Lawmakers have lost confidence in the entire biofuel industry, including biodiesel which happened to have the immediate need for subsidy renewal.

Biodiesel production, which uses soy beans produced through industrial agriculture, is simply not economically viable. Leaving aside the moral implications of dedicating arable land to fuel production, which results in higher market prices for basic foods, the higher production cost of biodiesel reflects a likely net energy loss once the entire process is accounted for.

The economic hope for soy-biodiesel had been predicated on promised cost advantages in GMO crops which turned out to be largely hyperbole and wishful thinking. With oil and gas prices stable, and with new non-conventional production methods that are vastly increasing economically recoverable oil reserves, it is unlikely that biodiesel of any type could be competitive any time in the foreseeable future.

Update #1:

Reuters | February 16, 2010

WASHINGTON – Senate leaders have dropped from a jobs creation bill a U.S. tax credit for biodiesel, creating uncertainty for biodiesel makers, who say they need the incentive to keep running.

A $1-a-gallon tax credit, which expired at the end of 2009, was in the first draft of the bill. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pared back the bill on Thursday, dropping the biodiesel tax credit, among other tax measures. [...]

The American Soybean Association has said biodiesel production has essentially stopped since the tax credit expired at the end of 2009. – source

Update #2:

6/28/2010

The Senate has voted down a bill that would have reinstated the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit through the end of 2010… source

Update #3:

Investors left in the dark: Two energy companies pull the plug on biodiesel plants

July 26, 2010

Investor Jim Berliner estimates altogether some 123 investors made payments to Canadian-based Sunx, which had planned on building up to 330 small-scale biodiesel processing plants in North America, according to a former version of the now-defunct Sunx website. In a brochure for potential investors, Sunx had touted securing more than 100 owner/operator agreements worth more than $60 million.

Update #4:

Biodiesel industry fails yet again on subsidy

Des Moines Register | September 19, 2010

The biodiesel industry’s wait for the return of its subsidy continues.

The Senate turned back an effort Thursday by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., to revive the $1-a-gallon tax credit as part of a small-business bill. The subsidy lapsed at the end of 2009 and repeated efforts to attach it to bills in the Senate have failed.

Grassley’s move needed 67 votes but received only 41…

Update #5:

Obama signs tax pact; ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel credits restored

December 17, 2010

Last night, the US House of Representatives voted by a 277 to 148 margin to approve the Obama tax deal, which extends the ethanol tax credit through 2011, and retroactively extends the biodiesel tax incentive and the renewable diesel incentive through 2011. The bill also renewed the 54-cent tariff on Brazilian ethanol through 2011.

Kate McMahon, Biofuels Campaign Coordinator, Friends of the Earth

“Shoveling out billions of dollars for oil companies to blend dirty corn ethanol into gasoline – if even for just another year – is a waste of taxpayer dollars.  Extending these subsidies is simply bad policy hidden within the political mess of a trillion dollar tax package.”

Also by Atheo:

January 9, 2012

Three Mile Island, Global Warming and the CIA

November 13, 2011

US forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria

September 19, 2011

Bush regime retread, Philip Zelikow, appointed to Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board

March 8, 2011

Investment bankers salivate over North Africa

January 2, 2011

Top Israel Lobby Senator Proposes Permanent US Air Bases For Afghanistan

October 10, 2010

A huge setback for, if not the end of, the American nuclear renaissance

July 5, 2010

Progressive ‘Green’ Counterinsurgency

February 25, 2010

Look out for the nuclear bomb coming with your electric bill

February 7, 2010

The saturated fat scam: What’s the real story?

December 26, 2009

Mining the soil: Biomass, the unsustainable energy source

December 19, 2009

Carbonphobia, the real environmental threat

December 4, 2009

There’s more to climate fraud than just tax hikes

May 9, 2009

Obama, Starving Africans and the Israel Lobby

Older articles by Atheo

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Author: Atheo, Corruption, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | 27 Comments

Viva Palestina arrives in Egypt to enter Gaza

Press TV – January 4, 2010

A Turkish ship, which carries the convoy from the Syrian port of Lattakia to Egypt, arrived in El-Arish on Sunday evening, said Gamal Abdel Maqsoud, head of El-Arish port.

The ship carrying the 250-vehicle convoy will be unloaded at the port and be transferred to the Gaza Strip via Rafah crossing, according to Egypt’s official MENA news agency.

According to the report, 528 activists from 17 countries who are onboard the convoy will also travel to Gaza.

Five Turkish lawmakers will also join the UK-based convoy on Monday.

They are expected to enter Gaza on Tuesday evening and will stay for 24 hours to deliver all humanitarian aids to the Gazan authorities.

The convoy, which departed from London on December 6, was scheduled to deliver medical, humanitarian and educational aid to Gazans on December 27.

It was, however, forced to return to Syria from the Jordanian port city of Aqaba after Cairo refused to allow it to go through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba — the most direct route.

Cairo insisted that the convoy can only enter through the Mediterranean port city of El-Arish.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Are U.S. Forces Executing Afghan Kids?

Americans Don’t Even Know to Ask

By David Lindorf | January 4, 2010

The Taliban suicide attack that killed a group of CIA agents in Afghanistan on a base that was directing US drone aircraft used to attack Taliban leaders was big news in the US over the past week, with the airwaves and front pages filled with sympathetic stories referring to the fact that the female station chief, who was among those killed, was the “mother of three children.”

But the apparent mass murder of Afghan school children, including one as young as 11 years old, by a US-led group of troops, was pretty much blacked out in the American media. Especially blacked out was word from UN investigators that the students had not just been killed but executed, many of them after having first been rousted from their bedroom and handcuffed.

Here is the excellent report on the incident that ran in the Times of London (like Fox News, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication) on Dec. 31:

Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children

By Jerome Starkey in Kabul

American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead.
Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.
Western military sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and civilians.
“This was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time,” said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted that “the facts about what actually went down are in dispute”.

The article goes on to say:

In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster [of the local school] said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their school books covered in blood,” he said.

The investigation found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said. He said that six of the students were at high school and two were at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews.

Compare this article to the one mention of the incident which appeared in the New York Times, one of the few American news outlets to even mention the incident. The Times, on Dec. 28, focusing entirely on the difficulty civilian killings cause for the US war effort, and not on the allegation of a serious war crime having been committed, wrote:

Attack Puts Afghan Leader and NATO at Odds
By Alissa J. Rubin and Abdul Waheed Wafa

KABUL, Afghanistan — The killing of at least nine men in a remote valley of eastern Afghanistan by a joint operation of Afghan and American forces put President Hamid Karzai and senior NATO officials at odds on Monday over whether those killed had been civilians or Taliban insurgents.

In a statement e-mailed to the news media, Mr. Karzai condemned the weekend attack and said the dead had been civilians, eight of them schoolboys. He called for an investigation.

Local officials, including the governor and members of Parliament from Kunar Province, where the deaths occurred, confirmed the reports. But the Kunar police chief, Khalilullah Ziayee, cautioned that his office was still investigating the killings and that outstanding questions remained, including why the eight young men had been in the same house at the time.

“There are still questions to be answered, like why these students were together and what they were doing on that night,” Mr. Ziayee said.

A senior NATO official with knowledge of the operation said that the raid had been carried out by a joint Afghan-American force and that its target was a group of men who were known Taliban members and smugglers of homemade bombs, which the American and NATO forces call improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s.

According to the NATO official, nine men were killed. “These were people who had a well-established network, they were I.E.D. smugglers and also were responsible for direct attacks on Afghan security and coalition forces in those areas,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue.

“When the raid took place they were armed and had material for making I.E.D.’s,” the official added.

While the article in the New York Times eventually mentions the allegation that the victims were children, not “men,” it begins with the unchallenged assertion in the lead that they were “men.” There is no mention of the equally serious allegation that the victims had been handcuffed before being executed, and the story leaves the impression, made by NATO sources, that they were armed and had died fighting. There is no indication in the Times story that the reporters made any effort, as the London Times reporter did, to get local, non-official, sources of information. Moreover, the information claiming that the victims had been making bombs was attributed to an anonymous NATO source, though there was no legitimate reason for the anonymity (“because of the delicacy of the situation” was the lame excuse offered)–indeed the use of an anonymous source here would appear to violate the Times’ own standards.

It’s not that in American newsrooms there was no knowledge that a major war crime may have been committed. Nearly all American news organizations receive the AP newswire. Here is the AP report on the killings, which ran under the headline “UN says killed Afghans were students”:

The United Nations says a raid last weekend by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students.

The Afghan government says that all 10 people killed in a village in Kunar province were civilians. NATO says there is no evidence to substantiate the claim and has requested a joint investigation.

UN special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement Thursday that preliminary investigation shows there were insurgents in the area at the time of the attack. But he adds that eight of those killed were students in local schools.

Once again, the American media are falling down shamefully in providing honest reporting on a war, making it difficult for the American people to make informed judgements about what is being done in their name.

Let’s be clear here. If the charges are correct, that American forces, or American-led forces, are handcuffing their victims and executing them, then they are committing egregious war crimes. If they are killing children, they are committing equally egregious war crimes. If they are handcuffing and executing children, the atrocity is beyond horrific. This indeed, would actually be worse than the infamous war crime that occurred in My Lai during the Vietnam War. In that case, we had ordinary soldiers in the field, acting under the orders of several low-ranking officers in the heat of an operation, shooting and killing women and children. But in this case we appear to have seasoned special forces troops actually directing the taking captives, cuffing them, herding them into a room, and spraying them with bullets, execution style.

Given the history of the commanding general in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who ran a massive death squad operation in Iraq before being named to his current post by President Obama, and who is known to have called for the same kind of operation in Afghanistan, it should not be surprising that the US would now be committing atrocities in Afghanistan. If this is how this war is going to be conducted, though, the US media should be making a major effort to uncover and expose the crime.

On January 1, the London Times’s Starkey, in Afghanistan, followed up with a second story, reporting that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling for the US to hand over the troops who killed the students. He also quoted a “NATO source” as saying that the “foreigners involved” in the incident were “non-military, suggesting that they were part of a secret paramilitary unit based in the capital” of Kabul. Starkey also quotes a “Western official” as saying: “There’s no doubt that there were insurgents there, and there may well have been an insurgent leader in the house, but that doesn’t justify executing eight children who were all enrolled in local schools.”

Good enterprise reporting by the London Times and its Kabul-based correspondent. Silence on these developments in the US media.

Meanwhile, it has been a week since the New York Times reporters Rubin and Wafa made their first flawed report on the incident, and there has been not a word since then about it in the paper. Are Rubin and Wafa or other Times reporters on the story? Will there be a follow-up?

On the evidence of past coverage of these US wars and their ongoing atrocities by the Times, and other major US corporate media news organizations don’t bet on it. You’ll do better looking to the foreign media.

By the way, given that we’re talking the allegation of a serious war crime here, it should be noted that it is, under the Geneva Conventions, a legal requirement that the US military chain of command immediately initiate an official investigation to determine whether such a crime has occurred. One would hope that the commander in chief, President Obama, would order such an inquiry.

Any effort to prevent such an inquiry, or to cover up a war crime, would be a war crime in itself.- source

Subhanullah s/o Farooq, student of class 10 in Narang High School.

Atiqullah s/o Farooq, student of class 9 in Narang High School.

Villagers and relatives and parents of the victims are mourning. The woman seen in the photo is mother of three of the victims.

Villagers prepare graves for the civilians killed by US Special Forces in Narang district.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | 10 Comments

9/11 Commission Chairman: Plane Bomber “Did Us A Favor”

Thomas Kean celebrates justification for Obama to expand war into Yemen

9/11 Commission Chairman: Plane Bomber Did Us A Favor 040110top2

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
January 4, 2010

9/11 Commission whitewash chief Thomas Kean told CNN yesterday that the Christmas Day plane bomber “did us a favor,” by allowing Obama to expand the so-called war on terror into Yemen, a startling reminder that the highly suspicious Flight 253 attack served to fulfil pre-determined U.S. geopolitical objectives.

“This guy in some respects looking at it in retrospective probably did us a favor,” Kean told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday talk show, adding that the attempted attack shifted the Obama administration’s attention away from health care and global warming and back to the war on terror.

“We weren’t really focused on Yemen and the terrible things that are happening there. Now we are and that’s a good thing,” said Kean.

“The GOP chairman’s quote raised eyebrows; by his logic, the Sept. 11, 2001 attackers may also have “done us a favor” by drawing US attention to extremism in Afghanistan,” writes Raw Story’s John Byrne.

However, Kean’s implication that Yemen was not a subject of U.S. geopolitical interest before the attempted attack drew attention to the country is completely at odds with the facts.

A December 24 BBC News report entitled Yemen: New frontier in US ‘war on terror’ revealed how the U.S. had already invested $70 million dollars over the last year on expanding the war on terror into Yemen and that “US intelligence agencies are keeping a closer and closer watch in this newly-emerging theatre in the “war on terror”.”

A week after the incident, President Obama pinned the blame for the attack on terrorists based in Yemen despite the fact that no formal investigation into the bombing had been concluded.

Obama’s statement came one day after Britain’s PM Gordon Brown called an “emergency summit” on “extremism” in Yemen. “Gordon Brown has invited key international partners to a high-level meeting in order to discuss how best to counter radicalization in Yemen,” a statement issued by Downing Street announced. “The prime minister will host the event on 28 January in London.”

The fact that the aborted plane bombing attack provided the perfect justification to expand U.S. military operations into Arabian Peninsula in the name of fighting Al-Qaeda makes the suspicious circumstances surrounding the December 25 incident all the more alarming.

As we have documented, The FBI has repeatedly changed its story in a haphazard effort to accommodate eyewitness testimony from passengers that conflicts with the official version of events.

At first the FBI denied that a second man was arrested in connection with the incident but later admitted a second man was handcuffed after Flight 253 passenger and eyewitness Kurt Haskell said he saw an Indian man being led away by authorities after sniffer dogs had found something in his luggage.

Officials then claimed that the man had not been on Flight 253 at all and was not connected with the incident, but had to reverse their statement again just days later when other eyewitnesses emerged, admitting that the man had been on the plane.

The fact that the FBI is apparently protecting accomplices involved with the bombing attempt, and thereby keeping the official story within the script necessary to pin the attack on a lone man from Yemen who was inspired by Al-Qaeda, blatantly suggests that the facts are being manipulated to fit a pre-conceived geopolitical agenda.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Wars for Israel | Leave a comment

Israeli forces ‘deliberately let him bleed to death’

Ma’an
Part nine of a series recounting the findings of South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

On 4 January 2009, one year ago today, Iyad Samouni, his wife, and five children were together with about 40 other members of their extended family in the house of Asaad Samouni, a relative.

At around 1am, they heard noise on the roof. At about 5am, Israeli soldiers walked down the stairs from the roof, knocked on the door, and entered the house. They asked for Hamas fighters. The residents replied that there were none.

Stationing themselves in the house, soldiers separated women, children and the elderly from the men. Iyad and all the other men were forced into a separate room, blindfolded and bound with plastic handcuffs. They were allowed to use the bathroom only after one of the men urinated on himself.

The next morning, Iyad and everyone in Asaad’s house walked out and down Al-Samouni Street to take Salah Ad-Din Street in the direction of Gaza City. They had been instructed by the soldiers to walk directly there without stopping or diverting from the direct route. The men were still handcuffed and the soldiers had told them that they would be shot if they attempted to remove the handcuffs.

On Salah Ad-Din Street, a single or several of the Israeli soldiers opened fire positioned on the roofs of houses. Iyad was struck in the leg and fell to the ground. Muhammad Asaad Samouni, who was walking immediately behind him, moved to help him, but an Israeli soldier on a rooftop ordered him to walk on. When he saw the red point of a laser beam on his body and understood that an Israeli soldier had taken aim at him, he desisted.

The Israeli soldiers also fired warning shots at Muhammad Samouni’s father to prevent him from assisting Iyad to get back on his feet. Iyad’s wife and children were prevented from helping him by further warning shots.

Fawzi Arafat, who was part of another group walking from the Al-Samouni neighborhood to Gaza City, said he saw Iyad lying on the ground, his hands shackled with white plastic handcuffs, blood pouring from the wounds in his legs, begging for help. Arafat stated that he yelled at an Israeli soldier “we want to evacuate the wounded man.” The soldier, however, pointed his gun at Iyad’s wife and children and ordered them to move on without him.

The final report produced by South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict notes that witnesses who spoke about Iyad “appeared to be profoundly traumatized by the recollection of his pleading for help from his wife, children and relatives…

Iyad’s family and relatives were forced to abandon him and continue to walk toward Gaza City. At Ash-Shifa hospital they reported his case and those of the other dead and wounded left behind. Representatives of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) told them that the Israeli armed forces were not permitting them to access the area.

Salah Samouni, who was part of a group up ahead of Iyad’s, said that “they were handcuffed, and one of them was hit with a bullet in the foot and he profused [sic] blood for three days until he met with his end.”

A PRCS staff member told the UN mission that three days later, on 8 January 2009, medics were granted permission by Israeli armed forces through the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate Iyad. The PRCS staff member found him on the ground on Salah Ad-Din Street in the place described by his relatives. He was still handcuffed. He had been shot in both legs and had bled to death.

Iyad’s family and relatives were forced to abandon him and continue to walk toward Gaza City. At Ash-Shifa hospital they reported his case and those of the other dead and wounded left behind. Representatives of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) told them that the Israeli armed forces were not permitting them to access the area.

Salah Samouni, who was part of a group up ahead of Iyad’s, said that “they were handcuffed, and one of them was hit with a bullet in the foot and he profused [sic] blood for three days until he met with his end.”

A PRCS staff member told the UN mission that three days later, on 8 January 2009, medics were granted permission by Israeli armed forces through the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate Iyad. The PRCS staff member found him on the ground on Salah Ad-Din Street in the place described by his relatives. He was still handcuffed. He had been shot in both legs and had bled to death.

Sameer As-Sawafeary, another witness, recounted: “On Tuesday, the Red Cross came … So we took the martyr and another martyr named Iyad Ezat Samouni, who was [a] neighbor, who was lying on the ground. I told the Red Crescent – or the Red Cross – that the body was Al-Samuni’s body. So they transported him on a stretcher.”

Factual and legal findings

Goldstone’s final report states: “Iyad al-Samouni was part of a large group of civilians who were leaving their homes and walking towards Gaza City in an area under the complete control of the Israeli armed forces. His hands were tied with white plastic handcuffs.

“The soldier who opened fire on him should have known, on the basis of the plastic handcuffs if not of coordination with his fellow soldiers stationed in Asaad al-Samouni’s house a few hundred metres away, that he had been searched and detained by the Israeli armed forces. In opening fire on Iyad al-Samouni, the Israeli armed forces shot deliberately at a civilian who posed no threat to them.”

The report adds: “While the fire directed at Iyad al-Samouni could have been intended to incapacitate rather than to kill, by threatening his family members and friends with lethal fire, the Israeli armed forces ensured that he did not receive lifesaving medical help. They deliberately let him bleed to death.”

According to the report, the fundamental principles applicable to these incidents, which are cornerstones of both treaty-based and customary international humanitarian law, are that “the parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants” and that “the civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack.”

Israel refers to the principle of distinction as “the first core principle of the Law of Armed Conflict.” It further states that “the IDF’s emphasis on compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict was also directly incorporated into the rules of engagement for the Gaza Operation.” The principle of distinction was reportedly incorporated in the following terms: “Strikes shall be directed against military objectives and combatants only. It is absolutely prohibited to intentionally strike civilians or civilian objects (in contrast to incidental proportional harm).”

In reviewing the above incident the Goldstone mission found in that the Israeli armed forces had carried out a direct, intentional strike against a civilian. The mission found that, on the basis of the facts it was able to ascertain, there were no grounds which could have reasonably induced the Israeli armed forces to assume that the Iyad was in fact taking a direct part in the hostilities and had thus lost his immunity against direct attacks.

Goldstone’s team found that Israel’s army violated the prohibition under customary international law that the civilian population as such will not be the object of attacks, as well as fundamental guarantees in the Fourth Geneva Convention. “The State of Israel would be responsible under international law for these internationally wrongful actions carried out by its agents,” the report states.

It adds: “From the facts ascertained, the Mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces in these cases would constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility.”

Israeli forces denied medical emergency services access to the wounded, the report notes. “In the case of Iyad al-Samouni, finally, the relatives who wanted to assist him were threatened with being shot themselves.”

Goldstone’s report also recalls that “In all circumstances [the wounded] shall be treated humanely and shall receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay, the medical care and attention required by their condition. …”

“The facts ascertained by the Mission establish that in the incidents investigated the Israeli armed forces did not use their best efforts to provide humanitarian organizations access to the wounded. On the contrary, the facts indicate that, while the circumstances permitted giving access, the Israeli armed forces arbitrarily withheld it.

“On this basis, the Mission finds a violation of the obligation under customary international law to treat the wounded humanely.”

The section on Iyad’s family concludes: “The conduct of the Israeli armed forces amounted to violations of the right to life where it resulted in death, and to a violation of the right to physical integrity, and to cruel and inhuman treatment in other cases.”

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Saber, patience

In Gaza | January 3, 2010

“I haven’t been on my land since we harvested the wheat last August. It’s too dangerous. There was an Israeli operation here yesterday…6 tanks and 4 bulldozers. I could see them from my rooftop in the village, but didn’t know if they’d destroyed my land.”

Abdul Nasser Abu Taima has 15 dunams of agricultural land roughly 400 m from the Green Line border dividing Gaza and Israel. Until a few years ago, he had a home on and lived off the land. Israeli bulldozers destroyed his house and razed his land.

“That was our home,” he says, picking up a piece of piping with a chunk of foundation still attached, chucking it onto the pile.

“I get so upset when I come to my land and see how beautiful it is, remember how well we lived off of it…and realize that now my children and I can’t live here.”

Although Abu Taima’s land is technically outside of the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” – an area of 300m running along the Green Line border from south to north –he and the other farmers in the region are still subject to danger by their mere presence near the “buffer zone”.  Israeli authorities reserve the right to shoot at anyone within 300 metres of the fence, but in practice shoot far beyond 300 m, up to as much as nearly 2 km.

“Whenever we work on our land, we know the Israelis can shoot at us. They say it’s for security, because there is danger. But where’s the danger? What’s the problem? They know who we are, they can see us.”

His regret is amplified by the bitter observation that on the other side of the Green Line, Israeli tractors work the land, crops grow, and water exists in comparative abundance. Lines of un-razed trees provide a stark contrast to the now olive, nut and fruit tree-devoid land on the Palestinian side.

“We will still plant on our land. But we’ve got to wait for the heavy rains. All the water sources –the wells, the cisterns—were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers or shelling. Now we can only wait for rain.”

This year the rain is late in coming. Aside from a scant few days of showers, it has been dry, and the land remains parched and un-worked.

“We usually plant in November, or at least December. January is the latest we can plant our wheat. After that, there’s no point.”

The only thing growing now are the hardy cactus plants –saber, in Arabic. Abu Taima cuts a number of the prickly, bright pink-orange fruits and puts them in a bag. He stoops down and rips our handfuls of tall grass.

We walk, and he turns repeatedly to survey his land. “Mish hada haram? Mish haram?” he asks? Isn’t it shameful, outrageous, that he can’t work his land, that the land lies unused in a Strip that is in want of cheap, fresh wheat, for a family that is in want of a source of income and nutrition?

He stops, dumps the cactus fruits on the ground and, rolling them with the tall grass, begins cleaning them of their prickly needles.

The fruit is refreshing, mildly sweet.

“We used to give tea to the Israeli soldiers. Sure, there were always problems with the occupation… but still, we could live here on the land, farm here, without this kind of danger.”

Walking up the dirt lane, we pass a farmer tending his pea and bean crops. “He’s connected to a line from Khan Younis. That’s why he can farm his land,” Abu Taima explains.

The farmer sees us and greets us with a smile. “Wait a few minutes, I’ll bring you some peas.”

As he harvests, Abu Taima explains, “even here, this is maybe 600 metres from the fence. But even here they are shot at… from Israeli jeeps, from the guard towers, from the remote-controlled towers.”

The farmer returns laden with peas and beans, crisp, sweet, fresh.

“My children help me on the land. You know, the Israelis even shoot when they are with me. The Israelis see the children, but they still shoot.”

He also remembers a better relationship with the occupying soldiers.

“They’d come to my land and I’d give them watermelons, vegetables. Now there’s no interaction. They just shoot at us from far away.”

The nearest remote-controlled tower is open. The machine gun within is capped by a dome which ironically opens to a lotus-shape when the gun is ready to fire.

“I’ve got 18 people in my family. This actually isn’t our land. Our own land is right next to the fence, so we can’t go there any more. Now I rent land, pay $2500 a year to use it. During the Israeli war last year the Israelis destroyed my piping, my hothouses, so I had to replace that too.”

We leave, amble along on Abu Taima’s tractor past destroyed homes, cisterns, and largely-vacant land.

Abu Taima has saber: patience. He will return when the rains come.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Leave a comment

Israeli occupation authority continues to desecrate Mamanullah cemetery

Palestinian Information Center | January 4, 2010

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) is still unearthing and destroying the ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, the Mamanullah (or Mamillah) graveyard, the committee for reconstruction of Muslim cemeteries in Jerusalem said.

It charged the IOA in a statement on Monday with sending its municipality bulldozers to the graveyard in western Jerusalem to cover it with a thick layer of wood shavings.

Mustafa Abu Zuhra, the committee’s chairman, rushed to the scene and halted work of the bulldozers, the statement said, adding that Abu Zuhra contacted the municipality and asked it to remove the wood shavings.

Abu Zuhra charged that the IOA was repeating previous attempts to wipe out the cemetery as it had done with 70% of its western area and turned it into the independence park.

He said that the Mamanullah cemetery’s area was reduced from 180 dunums into 19 dunums only, noting that 18 dunums were sold to the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center to build the Museum of Tolerance.

Abu Zuhra asked the Arab countries to support the cemetery which is in need of maintenance.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Leave a comment

   

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