Last Thursday’s essay “Why Hate Gilad Atzmon?” has been bouncing around the internet. (The title currently gets 780,000 Google hits).
In that piece I suggested that the anti-Atzmon brigade is defending sacred boundaries against Atzmon’s fearless questioning. The two taboo questions are:
Is the whole notion of a Jewish state in Palestine (i.e., Zionism) legitimate and/or feasible? (The obvious answer, of course, is NO.)
To what extent has Jewish identity politics contributed to the disaster of Zionism? (The obvious answer, of course, is “to a considerable extent.”)
“Don’t even go there!” they scream. Atzmon goes there. So they lynch him.
The truth hurts.
That’s my take, anyway. But not everyone agrees with me. I have received quite a few anti-Atzmon emails. They all make the same argument: Atzmon is wrong about X, Y, or Z, and therefore he is dangerous, a racist, a dangerous racist, and so on.
First, I would like to point out to these people that Atzmon has a right to be wrong. Since nobody is arguing that Atzmon is offering wrong facts – just wrong opinions, interpretations and orientations on very complex issues – his critics ought to be working harder to explain why he is wrong, rather than calling him names and organizing boycotts and smear campaigns on the basis of perfectly innocent quotes violently and misleadingly ripped from their contexts.
Second, it isn’t at all clear that Atzmon is wrong. What IS clear is that many of his opponents are.
Take the charge that Atzmon is an “essentialist.”
To call someone an “essentialist” (in the bad sense) is to argue that they prematurely end a discussion by fallaciously citing the “essence” of something.
For example, if someone argued that the reason African-American communities often have high crime rates is that “black people tend to be criminals, that’s just their nature” that person would be making a fallacious argument by falsely impugning an unchangeable “essence” to black people. And that person could plausibly be charged with bigotry. The logical fallacy involved is called “circular reasoning”: Black neighborhoods have higher crime rate, therefore black people are more likely to be criminals, because they’re the ones in the black neighborhoods, where crime rates are higher, ad infinitum. The problem with this argument is that it prematurely ends an inquiry into the real reason why crime rates are what they are; it short-circuits a more thoughtful investigation of the historical and cultural factors that have produced the phenomenon under investigation.
Now if Atzmon were to say “It is just the essence of Jewish nature to be greedy and violent, and that explains the rape of Palestine – end of story, and don’t bore me with historical and cultural explanations,” he would be an essentialist in the bad sense.
But that is not what he says. On the contrary, it is Atzmon who is opening a thoughtful discussion of the historical and cultural factors behind Zionism. And it is his opponents who want to prematurely shut down the inquiry by ruling that discussion off-limits. As Gilad puts it, the two-staters will only go back as far as 1967. One-staters go back to 1948, or maybe the Balfour declaration of 1917. Gilad wants to keep going, right back through the 19th century and beyond.
It is actually his opponents who are the essentialists. They believe that the essence of Jewishness is always either positive or neutral. Any discussion of Jewish culture or identity that brings up anything that is negatively-valued violates their sacred notion of the essence of Jewishness as innocence and victimhood. Atzmon wants to talk about empirical historical reality, which bears little resemblance to the essentialist construct. So they shout him down, desperate to end the discussion before it starts. You’d almost think they have something to hide.
Ironically, most of those wailing that Atzmon is slandering the Jews are themselves slandering Atzmon. They call him a racist, with no evidence to back up that charge. (Atzmon’s critique of Jewish identity-politics and Jewish culture in general has absolutely nothing whatsoever do do with race, as he himself always makes abundantly clear, in part by pointing out that Jews are not a race.)
Let’s look at some of the charges against Gilad that have appeared in my in-box. They usually involve taking a quote and lying about it – I mean, misconstruing it.
Atzmon quote: “The remarkable fact is they [ all Jews--not Zionists] don’t understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn’t understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others.”
The writer claims that Atzmon is “blaming the Jews for the Holocaust.” That’s just not true. The quote, in its context, doesn’t say that. It addresses an empirical historical reality (Europe in the 1930s, the world today) that is much larger than “the Holocaust.” And once again, Gilad is the honest thinker while his opponents are the essentialists. For the essentialists, the essence of Jewishness is 100% pure victimhood, end of discussion: Not a single Jew on earth – including, for example, the Rothschilds and their big bankster friends who screwed Germany in World War I in exchange for Palestine – bears one iota of responsibility for the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany! (Just like the top neocons, of whom around 90% are Jewish and fanatical Zionists, bear not one iota of responsibility for the 9/11 wars against Israel’s enemies.)
If you are an honest historian and cultural analyst, whenever there is a conflict between two groups, you look at it from the point of view of various parties in both groups, and emerge with a more or less nuanced, multi-viewpoint, holistic picture. Gilad compares this to analyzing the problems that arise in the life of a couple. Should we take the word of one or the other party that he or she is 100% right, and the other 100% wrong? Or should we talk to both parties and try to take both perspectives into consideration?
If you an essentialist/mythologist, nourished on Old Testament exceptionalism and chosen-ness (like Americans in general, not just Jews) you may instead imagine that it is the essence of the good guys in your historical narrative to be good, and the essence of the bad guys to be bad. Jews good, Germans bad; ergo, US and Allies good, Axis bad. End of sacred story.
This is the essentialist myth that Americans and Westerners have accepted in place of real history. And it is this myth, more than any other, that is responsible for what William Blum calls “the American holocaust”: The massacre of uncounted millions, and the ruined lives of uncounted tens of millions more, by the CIA, the US military, and their allies since World War II. Taken together with Zionist atrocities against Palestine and their spill-over into widespread Middle East violence, and the WWII atrocities of the Allies against people in the Axis countries, and it should be clear to any sane and moderately well-informed person that the “good guys” who won World War II have committed vastly more mass-murder, vastly more atrocities, vastly greater crimes against the human body and spirit than the Nazis ever did. In short, as Philip K. Dick suggested in The Man in the High Castle, it was the real “Nazis” who WON World War II. We have met the enemy, and he is us.
Only this realization will stop the Zio-American holocaust that continues today and threatens to explode into World War III.
But – as is commonly said in reference to the “good Germans” under Hitler – it is so much easier to just pretend it isn’t happening, and go along with the essentialist, exceptionalist assumption that your people are the good guys. And when someone like Niemoller or Atzmon comes along to challenge you, shout him down without giving him a fair hearing.
The confused individual who falsely charges Atzmon with blaming Jews for the Holocaust also calls Atzmon a racist:
“This is the essence of racism. Not that Jews like many before them have become corrupted by power. But that there is something pathological about Jewish culture–it must be their culture since he repudiates genetic explanations–that led them to become Zionists.”
Sorry, that is NOT “the essence of racism.” Racism offers biological explanations. Cultural explanations are THE OPPOSITE of racism!
Calling Atzmon “a racist” when you don’t even know what racism is… well, to say that this is inviting a defamation lawsuit is putting it mildly.
This person is trying to rule out any kind of investigation of cultural factors that led Jews to become Zionists. This is idiotic on its face. So in an attempt to prevent anyone, himself included, from actually thinking, he starts in with the mendacious insults: “Racist! Anti-Semite!”
Let’s get this straight: Nobody in his or her right mind has ever tried to prevent any discussion or investigation of cultural factors in history. Was there something in Protestant culture that led to the Industrial Revolution? Max Weber says yes – and he doesn’t give a good goddamn whether you feel he’s insulting Protestants (or Catholics) by investigating their respective cultures. Is there something in the culture of Muslim Saudi elites that is contributing to religious tensions in the region? Hell, yes – their hypocritical tolerance of wildly un-Islamic behavior for themselves, while imposing harsh restrictions on others. Is there something in Muslim culture that has slowed “economic progress” in Islamic countries? Sure, there are plenty of things, ranging from stopping to pray five times a day, to prohibitions against any kind of dealing involving interest, to culturally-accepted nepotism, to cultural preferences for working as an independent operator rather than a member of a corporate team.
Atzmon’s critics are wildly irrational in calling him a racist, and claiming that nobody should ever investigate cultural forces in history (the bread and butter of cultural historians). The dozens of people signing a statement to this effect - a statement containing blatantly false and defamatory assertions about Atzmon – might as well be signing a statement reading “I am an ignorant idiot.”
What these folks should be doing is reading Atzmon’s work carefully and holistically, and then, if they find that Atzmon is mistaken in his analysis of the way Jewish identity politics is a factor in Zionism, they should correct him. For once we’ve admitted that cultural critique is perfectly legitimate, we must add that not all cultural critiques are equal: It can be done badly, or well. Sure, some of Gilad’s statements about Jewish identity politics are tendentious or overly broad. And since his main focus is explaining the horrors of Zionism, he naturally talks more about negative cultural tropes than positive ones. (Personally I think that the positives in Jewish culture outweigh the negatives; but the positives, such as humor, education, bagels with lox and cream cheese and a thin slice of onion, etc. don’t explain what’s been done to Palestine.)
The irrational Atzmon critic continues:
As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time.”
Obviously this cannot be taken at face value. The French and the English are not identical, nor were their colonial projects. One thing I learned from postgraduate work in African Studies is that the French and English colonial projects differed wildly in accordance with the very different cultural peculiarities of the two nations. For example: The French, holding a monolithically statist and egalitarian ideology in keeping with their culture, did their best to grant the natives the status of honorary Frenchmen; and being slightly less racist than the British, they were more likely to intermarry with the colonized peoples.
So what is this dramatic, doth-protest-too-much insistence that “the Jews are ordinary people, just like the French and British” trying to hide?
The answer comes in the same sentence: The “deadly colonial project” of the Jews is happening at a “different time” from that of the French and English.
Let’s be specific: All other colonial projects – especially settler-colonial projects – are dead. They have passed on, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet their Maker; stiff, bereft of life, they rest in peace. If the Israelis hadn’t nailed Occupied Palestine to its perch, they would all be pushing up daisies.
The age of colonialism ended in about 1960; the process mostly happened within a few years, and was essentially complete within three decades. South Africa, the second-to-last settler colony, officially decolonized itself around 1990.
So what is it about Israel that allows it to persist as a fanatical, murderous settler-colony, vastly nastier than apartheid South Africa or French Algeria, in a post-colonial world?
Gilad Atzmon says that to answer that question, we need to take a very close, critical look at Jewish culture in general and Jewish identity politics in particular.
If there is a reasonable argument to the contrary, I would like to hear it.
But I don’t think there is.
I think it will be people following the trail Gilad blazed – people who discover that the persistence of a very peculiar and very nasty settler-colony in Palestine is largely due to the peculiarities of Jewish identity politics – who will, by ripping the mask off Zionism show what it really is, shame the world in general and the Jewish community in particular into shutting down their settler colony in Occupied Palestine.
Currently, the sacred taboos and one-sided myths that surround this issue are protecting Zionism. Blast those taboos to smithereens, and the Wall will come down.
Like Joshua at the battle of Jerico, Gilad is heroically blasting the Wall – the wall that stops us from thinking as well as the Apartheid Wall in Occupied Palestine – with his saxophone as well as his pen.
One day the Wall will crumble.
And Gilad will be playing at the celebration.
Hope to see you there.
- Obama, Netanyahu & Esther (alethonews.wordpress.com)
RAMALLAH – Thousands of Palestinian children struggle with mental health problems and reintegration into society after they are detained by Israel, a new report on child detention says.
According to the study released by Save the Children Sweden and YMCA-East Jerusalem on Monday, 90.6 percent of detained children suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after release.
Released minors often are unable to return to school, experience bed-wetting, anxiety attacks and nightmares, the report says. Families and communities suffer from stigmatization, and become increasingly conservative as fear grows of further detentions, it adds.
“Detention is especially stressful for a child, their coping mechanism is not developed yet,” Save the Children’s Kete Shabani said at the report launch in Ramallah. Last year, the youngest child seized by Israel forces was seven years old, and around 700 children are detained every year, she added.
Yousef al-Dusuqi, from Jerusalem, told reporters his detention last November was “terrorizing”.
Heavily armed forces broke into his home, dragging him from bed at 3 a.m. al-Dusuqi, who was 16 at the time, recounted. “I asked to say goodbye to my family, they refused.”
“They started hitting and verbally assaulting us in the military jeep. Afterward we got to the interrogation room … they hit me in order to extract information, they wanted me to confess to certain things.”
“After that they put me in prison. I just wished to see the sun,” he said. The teen was freed weeks later in the second part of a prisoner exchange with Israel.
Despite amendments to Israeli military regulations for child detention in October 2011, the report says the arbitrary arrest and detention of children continues in violation of international law.
“Nowhere else in the world are children systematically tried before military courts so unsuited for their needs,” said UNICEF child protection chief Saudamini Siegrist.
The report calls on Israel to detain children only as a last resort, for the shortest time possible, and meet the interests of the child, in line with international obligations.
It also urges the Palestinian Authority to improve its juvenile justice system and improve information collection and reintegration programs for child detainees.
“The Palestinian Authority should put all its focus into helping children reintegrate into society,” YMCA director Nader Abu Amsha said.
Muhammad al-Bata, a representative of the PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs, told reporters: “We cannot force Israel to change its policies — this is a political issue, and the child is the victim.”
- Human rights paper exposes Israeli violence against detained children (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Valiance in the Face of Cruelty (alethonews.wordpress.com)
For hundreds of years Americans have been committing massacres of women and children, old men and sometimes even young men, mostly unarmed or armed only with primitive weapons. The early massacres were mostly of Indians who refused to leave their lands when Americans decided it was God’s will that they steal those lands for nothing or for a few trinkets. In the Civil War Sherman and Grant routinely massacred Southern civilian populations with bombardments of cities, burning homes and Atlanta [though I do not know death figures], and so on. The introduction of automatic weapons led quickly to far more massive U.S. massacres, obviously in the Philippines where freedom fighters were using primitive weapons to try to gain freedom from the U.S. Empire. The U.S. gunned down tens of thousands of the Philippine sons of liberty and piled them in mass graves. In WWII the U.S. massacred vast numbers of Japanese soldiers trapped and starving on remote islands, bombed and burned all the cities of Germany and Japan [except Kyoto] and killed and maimed millions in a vast American Holocaust, capping it all off with the ghastly murder and maiming of hundreds of thousands of women and children in seconds by two nuclear weapons dropped to catch them going to school and in ways to maximize the deadly blast effects. The nuclear bombings were done against the pleas of Adm. Nimitz and most U.S. scientists who made the bombs. Nimitz said the Japanese were starving, surrounded and strangled by U.S. ships and would have to surrender soon to avoid starvation mass deaths. But Truman and his War Dept. and Pentagon brass wanted massacres to terrify the world into submission, especially the Soviets who had no such weapons.
Most U.S. massacres are totally censored by the U.S. and its Big Media. Some come to light many decades later, as in the case of No Gun Rhi in which the U.S. gunned down unknown numbers of South Koreans. Lt, Calley and his company in South Vietnam massacred somewhere near 500 women and children in the My Lai Massacre. Much to his horror, it got into the Media around the world, so the U.S. carried out a Sweet Heart Show Trial. Only Calley was convicted and sentenced to many years up to life, but he only served about three years in comfy house arrest.
American troops know they can massacre innocent civilians and captured POW’s with impunity, as long as they don’t get into the headlines of the world and make the Empire look like a Great Satan. Almost all the Iraqi massacres that did get into the headlines led to Sweet Heart Show Trials. The DOD talks tough and shouts naughty! But, as soon as the headlines go away, the mass murderers go free with sweetheart taps on the wrist or the rump.
There have been masses of massacres in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Most of them are done by the Special Ops Cowards at night when they attack single homes and small villages and murder women and children. Many are done by using the Murder Joy Sticks of the drones in the air-conditioned GHQ’s where they fire these Hell Fire Missiles with the Joy button as they eat pop corn and slurp beer. It’s an All American Pasttime for the Special Ops and CIA and BO who obviously get a real kick out of these “fun murders” and “massacres.”
The Media got hold of the latest Special Ops Massacre in Kandahar sometime yesterday. This broke the total shut down of Afghanistan reporting in the U.S. I think foreign Media probably put out the news first and forced the U.S. Official Media Corps. to follow up or lose all credibility. So far this seems to be a small, SOP Special Ops Massacre. As usual, they killed almost entirely women and children and old men when the young men were away and unable to fight back. The Black Ops of the Special Ops are especially cowardly. The U.S. says only one U.S. murderer did it, systematically shooting all the women and children in their sleep. Afghans near by say more troops were involved in this systematic, intentional massacre. That would be SOP for the Seals, etc.
By the way, the U.S. air attacks in Yemen yesterday killed nearly two dozen civilians, probably mostly women and children, as usual. They almost certainly used the standard Hell Fire Missiles which are SOP for The Great Satan,
When these guys get back to Miramar or North Island they will be greeted as Heroes, as usual. I see it all the time in the local Media of San Diego, the biggest military base in the world. They never took the slightest risk or even got dusty in their air-conditioned F-18 cockpits pushing that Joy button to massacre the women and children below, then flying back to base for some pop-corn and beer. The Good Life American style these days.
Most Americans will hardly notice the few minute blips on tv-news about this poor “psycho” who has suffered such immense stress in killing Iraqis and now Afghans who are unarmed and mostly tiny children in their sleep. BO will shed a few Media tears for show. Many Americans will dance with glee inside their smiling faces. They really love massacres like this and greet the returning “Heroes” with real joy. This “psycho” might get a Show sentence, but he’ll fly free and live happily ever after as another American “Hero.”
Western cultures became the great centers of Creative Carnage in the ancient world and have taken the lead in developing ever more horrific, terrorizing weapons over all these eons. The U.S. emerged at the end of WWII on top of all these Cultures of Carnage as the Great Victor because it was the most creatively gory of them all. This did not happen by accident. Americans are in love with terrorism and mass murder. It fills them with joy and their Entertainment Media are vast oceans of gore, including these days heroic vampires who love the taste of blood from their victims.
Victor Davis Hanson, an American military historian, has celebrated the fundamental ways in which Western and especially American culture have been focused on Carnage and Culture in his book by that name. He routinely celebrates the vast carnage of American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever. You can read some of the gory details in works such as that, but, of course, they are not going to reveal the most ghastly details of America’s love affair with Carnage. You can see that in all the movies and pictures of all the burned out cities of Germany and Japan in WWII and in lesser ways in all of America’s vast celebrations of Carnage.
Obviously, not all of us American are in love with vast Carnage. If I were, I would write Lies about it all like the official text book historians, not essays like this. We are the minority who have not been massacred yet.
Jack D. Douglas [send him mail] is a retired professor of sociology from the University of California at San Diego.
“Great shapes like big machines rose out of the dimness, and cast grotesque black shadows, in which dim spectral Morlocks sheltered from the glare…there was an altogether new element in the sickening quality of the Morlocks — a something inhuman and malign…I wondered vaguely what foul villainy it might be that the Morlocks did under the new moon.”
- H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, 1895
Nearly eight years ago, on April 1, 2004, former speech writer and Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan, Peggy Noonan wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, where she was a contributing editor. It began like this (emphasis in original):
The world is used to bad news and always has been, but now and then there occurs something so brutal, so outside the normal limits of what used to be called man’s inhumanity to man, that you have to look away. Then you force yourself to look and see and only one thought is possible: This must stop now. You wonder, how can we do it? And your mind says, immediately: Whatever it takes.
The brutal, inhuman event she was referring to was the killing in the Iraqi city of Fallujah of four American civilian contractors, whose SUV was ambushed by rocket-propelled grenades the day before. The four men, all employees of the infamous mercenary outfit Blackwater, were shot, their bodies burned, mutilated, and dragged through the streets in celebration. The charred corpses of two of those killed that day were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River. The news, and accompanying photographs, sent shockwaves of horror and disgust through the United States and prompted endless editorials from coast to coast.
Noonan described “the brutalization of their corpses” as “savage, primitive, unacceptable” and decried that the “terrible glee of the young men in the crowds, and the sadism they evinced, reminds us of the special power of the ignorant to impede the good.” She wrote that the Iraqis responsible for such gruesome actions “take pleasure in evil, and they were not shy to show it. They are arrogant. They think barbarity is their right.”
White House spokesman Scott McClellan condemned the killings as “despicable, horrific attacks” and “cowardly, hateful acts,” saying, “it was inexcusable the way those individuals were treated.” He called those responsible for the deaths “terrorists” and “a collection of killers” and vowed that “America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins.”
A few days later in the San Diego Union-Tribune, editor Robert J. Caldwell wrote of the “grisly horror,” the “shocking slaughter,” the “barbarism” and “butchery,” the “homicidal hatred,” and insisted that “if we permit atrocities like the one in Fallujah to drive the U.S.-led coalition into retreat and premature withdrawal” and “[i]f we falter in Iraq, we let the mob in Fallujah win.” Similarly, Noonan suggested,
It would be good not only for elemental justice but for Iraq and its future if a large force of coalition troops led by U.S. Marines would go into Fallujah, find the young men, arrest them or kill them, and, to make sure the point isn’t lost on them, blow up the bridge.
Whatever the long-term impact of the charred bodies the short term response must be a message to Fallujah and to all the young men of Iraq: the violent and unlawful will be broken. Savagery is yesterday; it left with Saddam.
In fact, in retaliation, savagery returned with a vengeance as United States Marines immediately bombarded Fallujah, killing over 600 Iraqis, most of them women, children, and the elderly in the very first week of the assault in early April 2004, eleven months after George W. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished.” By the end of the year, after two massive assaults on the city by the U.S. military, over 2,000 Iraqis, including hundreds of women and children, had been killed by American soldiers, thousands more injured and at least 300,000 displaced.
Such is the American capacity for blood-thirsty revenge.
Nowhere has this vengeance been more tragically demonstrated than Afghanistan and upon an innocent and terrorized civilian population that bares absolutely no responsibility for the events that led the United States to invade and occupy the country over a decade ago.
According to the official U.S. government story, the attacks of September 11, 2001 were carried out by 19 hijackers, none of whom were from Afghanistan. Fifteen were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and another from Lebanon. None of them lived in Afghanistan. They lived in Hamburg, Germany. They didn’t train in Afghanistan, but rather in Sarasota, Florida. They didn’t attend flight school in Afghanistan; their school was in Minnesota. The attacks were reportedly planned in many places, including Falls Church, Virginia and Paris, France, but not in Afghanistan.
Soon after the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan offered repeatedly “to hand bin Laden over to a neutral Islamic country for trial, if there is proof of his crimes.” In response, George W. Bush replied, “We know he’s guilty. Turn him over.”
On October 1, 2001, the Taliban repeated their offer, telling reporters in Pakistan, “We are ready for negotiations. It is up to the other side to agree or not. Only negotiation will solve our problems.” The next day, when Bush was asked about this offer at a press conference, he replied: “There’s no negotiations. There’s no calendar. We’ll act on our time.” Refusing to provide any evidence of bin Laden’s guilt, U.S. officials stated that the Taliban offer was “inadequate” and instead “dispatched war planes and ships towards Afghanistan,” beginning its illegal bombing campaign on October 7, 2001.
By early December 2001, over 6,500 tons of munitions had been dropped on Afghanistan by US-led NATO forces, including approximately 12,000 bombs and missiles. By the end of March 2002, over 21,000 bombs and missiles had been dropped, murdering well over 3,000 Afghan civilians in air strikes. In the first two months alone, Afghan civilians were killed at an average rate of 45 per day.
The killing has continued unabated for over ten years and is routinely ignored by the mainstream media, which choose instead to praise American soldiers for their duty, their heroism, and their sacrifice.
Just last month, on February 8, 2012, a NATO air strike killed several children in the eastern Kapinsa province of Afghanistan, with “young Afghans of varying ages” identified among the casualties. Similar strikes were responsible for the murders of nearly 200 civilians last year alone. Furthermore, in less than ten months from 2010 to early 2011, well over 1,500 Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. and NATO forces in night raids, a brutal occupation tactic that has been embraced – along with drone attacks – by Barack Obama. According to a September 2011 study by the Open Society Foundation, “An estimated 12 to 20 night raids now occur per night, resulting in thousands of detentions per year, many of whom are non-combatants.” These raids produce heavy civilian casualties and often target the wrong people.
And earlier today, Sunday March 11, 2012, Reuters reported,
Western forces shot dead 16 civilians including nine children in southern Kandahar province on Sunday, Afghan officials said, in a rampage that witnesses said was carried out by American soldiers who were laughing and appeared drunk.
One Afghan father who said his children were killed in the shooting spree accused soldiers of later burning the bodies.
Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of U.S. soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at around 2 am, enter homes and open fire.
The New York Times reported that “a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children,” after “[s]talking from home to home.”
Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. At the first, the man gathered 11 bodies, including those of four girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said.
The Guardian added, “Among the dead was a young girl in a green and red dress who had been shot in the forehead. The bodies of other victims appeared partially burned. A villager claimed they had been wrapped in blankets and set on fire by the killer.”
The mainstream media was quick to follow the lead of “U.S. military officials” who “stressed that the shooting was carried out by a lone, rogue soldier, differentiating it from past instances in which civilians were killed accidentally during military operations.”
While Reuters noted that, while ” U.S. officials” asserted “that a lone soldier was responsible,” this conflicted with “witnesses’ accounts that several U.S. soldiers were present.”
“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said a weeping Haji Samad, who said he had left his home a day earlier.
The walls of the house were blood-splattered.
“They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” Samad told Reuters at the scene.
Neighbors said they had awoken to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, who they described as laughing and drunk.
“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where killings took place.
“Their (the victims’) bodies were riddled with bullets.”
A senior U.S. defense official in Washington rejected witness accounts that several apparently drunk soldiers were involved. “Based on the preliminary information we have this account is flatly wrong,” the official said. “We believe one U.S. service member acted alone, not a group of U.S. soldiers.”
“Some villagers reported that more than one US soldier was involved,” wrote Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian‘s Kabul-based correspondent, “but Afghan officials and the NATO-led coalition said they believed the killer worked alone.”
The Washington Post quoted Fazal Mohammad Esaqzai, deputy chief of the Kandahar provincial council, as saying, “They entered the room where the women and children were sleeping, and they were all shot in the head. They were all shot in the head.” Esaqzai was “doubtful of the U.S. account suggesting that the killings were the work of a lone gunman…About an hour later, residents in a nearby village heard gunshots, and they later discovered the corpses of five men inside two houses located near each other, Esaqzai said.”
A reporter for The New York Times “inspected bodies that had been taken to the nearby American military base counted 16 dead, and saw burns on some of the children’s legs and heads. ‘All the family members were killed, the dead put in a room, and blankets were put over the corpses and they were burned,’ said Anar Gula, an elderly neighbor who rushed to the house after the soldier had left. ‘We put out the fire.'”
One of the survivors from the attack, Abdul Hadi, 40, said he was at home when a soldier broke down the door.“My father went out to find out what was happening, and he was killed,” he said. “I was trying to go out and find out about the shooting, but someone told me not to move, and I was covered by the women in my family in my room, so that is why I survived.”
U.S. officials were also quick to express their “deep sadness” as they described the “individual act” as an “isolated episode.” Lt. Gen. Adrian J. Bradshaw, deputy commander of the international coalition in Afghanistan, called the murders “callous.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Afghan president Hamid Karzai, “I condemn such violence and am shocked and saddened that a U.S. service member is alleged to be involved.” U.S. President Barack Obama declared, “I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering. This incident…does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.”
These isolated incidents and that kind of respect have been obliterating the lives of Afghan civilians for over a decade. Such exceptional character was responsible for the premeditated murders of at least three Afghan civilians in Kandanhar in the first half of 2010. Between January and May 2010, members of a U.S. Army Stryker brigade, who called themselves the “Kill Team,” executed three Afghans, staged combat situations to cover-up the killings, took commemorative and celebratory photographs with the murdered corpses, and took fingers and teeth as trophies. To date, eleven soldiers have been convicted in connection to the murders. Last year, one of the soldiers, Specialist Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the killings. One of the leaked Kill Team photos shows “Morlock smiling as he holds a dead man up by the hair on his head.” At the beginning of his court-martial, Morlock bluntly told the judge, “The plan was to kill people, sir.” Nevertheless, he may be eligible for parole in less than seven years.
Last month, a video posted online showed four giddy U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of three slain Afghan men while saying things like “Have a good day, buddy” and “Golden like a shower.” One of the soldiers was the platoon’s commanding officer. Just a few weeks later, American troops at Bagram Air Base deliberately incinerated numerous copies of the Qur’an and other religious texts, sparking mass riots across Afghanistan and leading to a rash of killings of U.S. and NATO soldiers by Afghans armed and trained by NATO. Just two days ago, in the eastern Afghan province of Kapisa, “NATO helicopters apparently hunting Taliban insurgents instead fired on civilians, killing four and wounding three others.”
A 2011 military report determined – shockingly – that the treatment of Afghans by the occupying armies was one reason why members of the Afghan National Security Force sometimes kill their NATO comrades. The report credited such actions to “a crisis of trust and cultural incompatibility.” One would hope that night raids, drone strikes, the willful execution of men, women, and children, mutilating, desecrating and pissing on corpses would be “incompatible” with any “culture.”
In the wake of the Qur’an burnings, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, “We can’t forget what the mission is – the need to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda remains,” and stressed that “the overall importance of defeating al-Qaeda remains.”
Carney said this despite the fact that, in late June 2010, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta judged that the number of al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan was “at most…maybe 50 to 100, maybe less.” In April 2011, General David Petraeus told reporters in Kabul that al-Qaeda’s total strength in Afghanistan is “generally assessed at less than 100 or so” combatants, of whom only “a handful” were seen to pose a threat to Western countries. Months later, in November 2011, The Washington Post quoted a “senior U.S. counterterrorism official” as saying, “We have rendered the organization that brought us 9/11 operationally ineffective.” The official also stated that al-Qaeda’s entire leadership consisted only of two top positions and described the group as having none of “the world-class terrorists they once had.”
As such, the U.S. military and its coalition partners have been waging a war against a civilian population, allegedly in pursuit of what remains of a leaderless and powerless band of potential terrorists affiliated with the group accused (but never charged, tried or convicted) of planning and executing the 9/11 attacks.
To make matters even more appalling, hardly any Afghans even know the “reason” why foreign armies have invaded and occupied their land and have been killing their family and friends for years. A survey released by the International Council on Security and Development in November 2010 revealed that, “in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, the two provinces currently suffering the most violence” and where Obama had recently sent thousands of American soldiers, “92% of respondents in the south are unaware of the events of 9/11 or that they triggered the current international presence in Afghanistan,” after being read a three-paragraph description of the attacks. Furthermore, of those interviewed (one thousand Afghan men ages fifteen to thirty), 40% “believe the international forces are there to destroy Islam, or to occupy or destroy Afghanistan.” Chances are, incinerating their holy scripture and bombing their villages don’t help challenge this perception.
Consequently, when American missiles and bullets tear through villages, rooftops, windshields, and the living, breathing bodies of Afghan men, women, boys and girls, the carnage is devoid of “context” – not that a deadly attack on U.S. soil over a decade ago can possibly, in any conceivable, legal, or human way, justify the atrocities, trauma, terror, dehumanization and devastation that have befallen the Afghan people at the orders and hands of American soldiers, officers, and commanders-in chief.
Such criminal brutality is obviously not limited to Afghanistan. Sunday’s massacre of 16 human beings in Kandahar recalls the massacre in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. Following the death of one soldier (and wounding of two others) by a roadside bomb, a squad of Marines killed 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women, an elderly man, children, some of them toddlers.
Led by Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich (who told his men to “shoot first and ask questions later”), Marines ordered a taxi driver and four students at the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah out of their car and shot them dead in the street, the Marines raided three nearby homes, slaughtering everyone they came in contact with.
Along with his 66-year-old wife Khamisa Tuma Ali, three grown sons, a 32-year-old woman and a four-year-old child, 76-year-old, wheelchair-bound Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali was killed in his own home after having his chest and abdomen riddled with bullets. Nine-year-old Eman Walid witnessed the slaughter of her family. “First, they went into my father’s room, where he was reading the Koran and we heard shots,” she said. “I couldn’t see their faces very well—only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny.”
Younis Salim Khafif, 43, his wife Aida Yasin Ahmed, 41, their 8-year-old son Muhammad, 14-year-old daughter Noor, 10-year-old daughter Sabaa, 5-year-old daughter Zainab, 3-year-old daughter Aisha and a one-year-old baby girl who was staying at their home were all attacked with hand grenades and shot to death at close range. In the third house, four adult brothers, Jamal, Marwan, Qahtan and Chasib Ahmed were all killed by the Marines. Another brother, Yousif, who survived the attack, recalled, “The Americans gathered my four brothers and took them inside my father’s bedroom, to a closet. They killed them inside the closet.” The soldiers then took photos of the dead and desecrated their bodies by urinating on them.
Despite overwhelming evidence, only a single solider, Wuterich, stood trial for these murders. All charges against the other Marines who committed these atrocities were dropped or dismissed. Wuterich, whose own charges of assault and manslaughter were also dropped, was convicted on January 24, 2012 of only negligent dereliction of duty. He got a demotion and a pay cut. His sentence did not include any jail time.
This kind of American impunity is hardly surprising.
Over the past decade, the United States military has invaded and occupied two foreign countries (illegally bombing and drone striking at least four others), and has overseen the kidnapping, indefinite detention without charge or trial, and the physical and psychological torture of thousands of people, including at places like Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib, where detainees were raped by their American captors. Prisoners held by the United States in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, in addition to being “chained to the ceiling, shackled so tightly that the blood flow stops, kept naked and hooded and kicked to keep them awake for days on end,” have also been beaten to death by their American interrogators. Of the fifteen soldiers charged with detainee abuse ranging from “dereliction of duty to maiming and involuntary manslaughter,” all but three have been acquitted. Those three received written reprimands and served, at most, 75 days in prison for their war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In response to the lethal rampage in Kandahar today, the Taliban condemned the “sick minded American savages” and vowed to “take revenge from the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr.” The official Taliban statement continued,
A large number from amongst the victims are innocent children, women and the elderly, martyred by the American barbarians who mercilessly robbed them of their precious lives and drenched their hands with their innocent blood.
The American terrorists want to come up with an excuse for the perpetrator of this inhumane crime by claiming that this immoral culprit was mentally ill.
If the perpetrators of this massacre were in fact mentally ill then this testifies to yet another moral transgression by the American military because they are arming lunatics in Afghanistan who turn their weapons against the defenceless Afghans without giving a second thought.
The words could be Peggy Noonan’s. One would assume, as the victims of this latest massacre were not trained, uniformed combat troops, heavily-armed and armored, serving in a military occupation of an invaded and destroyed foreign country, but rather innocent civilians, many of them children, that the Noonans of the world would similarly cry out for justice, for vengeance, for retribution.
But don’t hold your breath.
Their silence – or worse, equivocation – will be thunderous.
Independent Jewish Voices | March 12, 2012
With voting underway to elect the new leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and just two weeks until the leadership convention, Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) has discovered information indicating that key players at the highest levels in Canada’s Israel Lobby are backing the candidacy of Thomas Mulcair.
IJV is a non-partisan organization and is not endorsing any candidate in the NDP leadership race. But IJV has a responsibility to highlight the fact that the positions of leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair stand out as more closely aligned with those of Stephen Harper than with the NDP on the issue of the ongoing crisis in Israel/Palestine.
The newly revealed Israel Lobby support for Mulcair’s NDP leadership bid includes donations from David Mayhood, a former chair of various fundraising programs at the United Israel Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto, an organization which raises millions of dollars for Israel advocacy and the “centrality of Israel” and partners with the Strauss Group, a company targeted for its questionable practices by the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement; and accolades from Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Canada-Israel Committee, who has called Mulcair ” courageous” for his one-sided support of Israel, because Mulcair has, in Fogel’s estimation, “consistently challenged the radical element that has sought to capture the soul of their party.”
Others contributions to Mulcair’s campaign include one from Brent Belzberg, past co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA); the endorsement of former NDP MP Lorne Nystrom, who is currently a board member of CIJA; a donation from CIJA board member Joel Reitman; and another from Alvin Segal, who is a board member of the Canada-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
The sums of money involved are not large, but “IJV’s concern is that these donations indicate the leadership of the Israel Lobby recognizes that Mulcair would be ‘an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances,’ as he himself put it,” says Montreal IJV steering committee member Fabienne Presentey. “As IJV sees it, Mr. Mulcair’s unconditional support for Israel could result in the NDP ignoring Israel’s violation of Palestinians’ human rights and its contempt for international law.”
Canada’s Israel Lobby is becoming increasingly centralized and undemocratic. CIJA and its allies represent the corporate interests of only a minority of Canadian Jews. But they provide strong, unquestioning political and financial support for everything Israel does. CIJA’s board members include Stockwell Day, a former senior executive at Irving Oil, and a variety of senior corporate executives and board members, as well as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Israel Defence Forces reserves.
IJV is deeply concerned about this high-level support for Mulcair’s leadership bid from Canada’s Israel Lobby. We believe that NDP members voting to elect a new leader should be concerned as well, as these latest revelations serve to compound the concerns already raised by previous reports from IJV , Rabble.ca , and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East .
Independent Jewish Voices is a pan-Canadian human rights organization that promotes the application of international law and respect for human rights as the basis for the resolution of the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine. While IJV is politically non-partisan, the organization seeks to ensure that our analysis is shared with those who are in a position to influence Canadian public policy. To that end, IJV is expressing its perspective on the unbalanced positions taken by one of the candidates for leader of the federal New Democratic Party with respect to this conflict.
- Canada’s Zionist lobby exposed in new book (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Will Canada’s social-democratic party be able to prevent a leadership coup? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- What English Canadians need to understand about Quebec, the NDP and Thomas Mulcair (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The world is a mysterious place.
Regina Dugan, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is quitting her Pentagon funded post at the agency — trading it for a ‘senior executive’ position with internet giant Google.
It makes you wonder just how big and powerful Google is getting, and what are they actually into.
According to Donald Melanson;
The company (Google) has just reported $8.58 billion in gross revenue for the first quarter of 2011, which represents a 27 percent increase over the first quarter of last year, but is actually a bit less than analysts were expecting. That figure also doesn’t include the company’s so-called traffic acquisition costs, however, which totaled $2.04 billion for the quarter and bring the company’s actual revenue down to “just” $6.54 billion. Net income for the quarter was $2.3 billion, which represents a more modest gain from $1.96 billion in the first quarter of 2010. Also cutting into profits quite a bit was Google’s operating expenses, which were up a hefty 33 percent to $2.8 billion — a sizable chunk of which went to the nearly 2,000 new employees the company hired during the quarter.
That’s a pretty hefty take, must be nice.
A Wired excerpt reads;
Dugan’s emphasis on cybersecurity and next-generation manufacturing earned her strong support from the White House, winning her praise from the President and maintaining the agency’s budget even during a period of relative austerity at the Pentagon. Her push into crowdsourcing and outreach to the hacker community were eye-openers in the often-closed world of military R&D. Dugan also won over some military commanders by diverting some of her research cash from long-term, blue-sky projects to immediate battlefield concerns.
“There is a time and a place for daydreaming. But it is not at Darpa,” she told a congressional panel in March 2011 (.pdf). “Darpa is not the place of dreamlike musings or fantasies, not a place for self-indulging in wishes and hopes. Darpa is a place of doing.” For an agency that spent millions of dollars on shape-shifting robots, Mach 20 missiles, and mind-controlled limbs, it was something of a revolutionary statement.
The shift was only one of the reasons why Dugan was a highly polarizing figure within her agency, and in the larger defense research community. The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is alsoactively investigating hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of contracts that Darpa gave out to RedX Defense — a bomb-detection firm that Dugan co-founded, and still partially owns. A separate audit is examining a sample of the 2,000 other research contracts Darpa has signed during Dugan’s tenure, to “determine the adequacy of Darpa’s selection, award, and administration of contracts and grants,” according to a military memorandum.
Results of the Inspector General’s work haven’t been released and, according to her spokesman, the work had “no impact” on Dugan’s decision, “The only reason she decided to leave the Pentagon was the allure of working at Google.”
So what will Dugan really be working on for Google? Only time will tell.
In August 2011, when the Israeli army bombed the Gaza Strip for nearly a week, killing 26 and injuring 89 more Palestinians, they at least had a pretext, no matter how transparently false — one which was immediately proven bogus by both their own Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) spokeswoman and subsequent investigations.
Four days ago on March 9, 2012, when the Israeli army assassinated two Palestinians via a precision-fired “drone” (UAV, the technically accurate name) missile, they didn’t even have the pretense of a pretext to cling to. The missile, which hit a car in Gaza City’s Tel el Hawa district, killing two Palestinian resistance fighters, was the first of almost non-stop bombing that has continued throughout Monday. As of Monday evening, the death toll was 25 Palestinians, with another over 80 injured — many with critical, life-threatening injuries — and 3 Israelis injured from the crude, unguided rockets Palestinian resistance fire, with no signs that Israel would cease its murderous campaign. In the first attacks, the IOF assassinated Zuhair al-Qaisi, the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), and PRC member Mahmoud Hanani.
Samer, a university student from Beit Hanoun, spoke Monday of the injured he saw at northern Gaza’s Kamal Adwan hospital: “The injured I saw there yesterday were all children and women.” Indeed, if the death toll is accurate, while a great many of the assassinated have been resistance fighters, the martyred — and nearly all of the injured — also include civilians, children, and elderly.
In Jabaliya refugee camp, one of the many Israeli bombings on Monday killed 65-year-old Mohammed Mustafa al-Hasumi and his 30-year-old daughter Faiza. Early Monday morning, IOF warplanes targeted the three-storey home of the Hammad family in Ezbet Abed Rabbo, injuring 33, including two critically so, and including nine below the age of 10 years old. Also on Monday, in the Strip’s northern Beit Lahiya, the IOF killed Nayif Qarmout, 14, and injured five other students wounded when the IOF-fired missile hit near them. On Sunday, Israeli bombing in a residential area killed Ayoub Assaliya, 13, and injured his seven-year-old cousin.
The Israeli attacks began Friday with the assassination of resistance fighters who were not participating in acts of resisting the occupation, but rather were travelling through a residential area of Gaza City. Enshrined in international law is the right to resist occupation. In contrast, the targeted assassination of people not engaged in combat is forbidden under international law. Specifically:
Extrajudicial executions are gross violations of universally agreed human rights that enshrine the right to life in accordance with Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further cemented in Article 6 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Extrajudicial executions are acts outside the realm of rule of law and hence deprive the targeted individual(s) of their right to life, as well as the right to defend themselves against charges against them.
According to provisions of IHL, people who live under foreign occupation enjoy special protection under Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions. The Article stipulates that:
“[t]he passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples” are prohibited at all times and in all circumstances. Civilians are moreover protected against acts that constitute collective punishment. Collective punishment, intentional attacks against civilians and extrajudicial executions constitute war crimes in IHL.
Jenny Graham, an Irish citizen living in Gaza City, describes on her blog the pandemonium following the first Israeli attacks on March 9:
A day of bombardment from air, sea and land, The martyred and injured taken to Al Shifa. To the North, South, East and West and everywhere in between, no where escaped. Loud explosions constantly rattled the windows and shook the building.
… not only can Gazans not report their stories, share their fears or spread word of an attack, many can now no longer keep check on friends and family members [due to the 20 hour long power outages throughout the Strip].
… The father of one of the Martyrs sits on the ground outside, oblivious to the crowds surrounding him, his eyes vacant and empty, he will never see the world the same again.
Omar Ghraeib, a 25-year-old Palestinian who blogs when he has electricity, said:
I live in Tel el Hawa, Gaza City. The first bombings last Friday — which ignited the latest escalation — happened in Tel el Hawa. Since then, basically, from south till north Gaza, from east till west, nowhere is safe. They even bombed populated area and high-traffic areas. The bombing affects everyone, including myself and my family; it is not safe to go to work or school. But if I could leave, I wouldn’t! I want to stick with my people here, I am not better than them, and we are all in this together. Some might leave, but the majority won’t leave their lands, houses, and country.
An online letter from various Palestinian civil society groups, including the One Democratic State Group and different BDS groups, reads:
[Gaza has been] bombed by Apache helicopters and F-16 and V-58 fighter planes. Gaza has been enduring Israeli policies of extermination and vandalism since June, 2006. The Palestinian people have already been under siege for more than six years as collective punishment. Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp, reminiscent of Bergen Bilsen and Auschwitz, with the largest population of prisoners in the world.
Mahfouz Kabariti, from Gaza City’s port area, says the bombing escapes no area:
“The other day they bombed behind our house, maybe 500 metres away. Three were killed.” But like most Palestinians, he is accustomed to the tragedies of the occupation.
“We are used to this life… but it is the kids dying, that’s the hardest thing.”
Saber al Zaneen, living in Beit Lahiya, said Monday evening:
“The situation is extremely difficult in Gaza It’s very, very dangerous here. There are bombs every five to ten minutes, from warplanes, from zananas (UAVs). Today’s the fourth day we’ve been under Israel’s war … and no one is doing anything to stop it. It’s the beginning of a new war on Gaza, and it already feels as bad as the last war on Gaza in 2008-2009. The Israelis are bombing everywhere again: people’s homes, schools, cemeteries…No one is on the street, everyone is afraid.”
Finally, and critically, Yaakov Katz in The Jerusalem Post cites statistics that are rarely cited, buried in the pages of Israeli propaganda:
… between September 2005 and May 2007 in which Palestinian armed groups fired 2,700 rockets toward Israel killing four people, Israel fired 14,617 heavy artillery shells into Gaza killing 59 people, including at least 17 children and 12 women. Hundreds more were injured and extensive damage caused.
In 2011, the projectiles fired by the Israeli military into Gaza have been responsible for the death of 108 Palestinians, of which 15 where women or children and the injury of 468 Palestinians of which 143 where women or children. The methods by which these causalities were inflicted by Israeli projectiles breaks down as follows: 57% or 310, were caused by Israeli Aircraft Missile fire, 28% or 150 were from Israeli live ammunition, 11% or 59 were from Israeli tank shells while another 3% or 18 were from Israeli mortar fire.
“To top things off,” Omar Ghareib writes, “Gaza’s Energy Authority announced that Gaza’s only power plant will be shutting down — completely — today, for the third time in a month, because of the lack of fuel. Gaza will sink under darkness again, but will be lit by the Israeli war machines.”
Dr. Hassan Khalaf, Deputy Health Minister in Gaza, said Monday that the combination of the latest Israeli attacks, the prolonged medicines shortage, and the continued lack of electricity meant for a critical health services situation in the Strip:
It is very critical, 180 of 450 of patients’ drug items are at zero stock; 200 of 900 of essential medical items are at zero stock. We lack many essential drugs, including those needed for anesthesia, antibiotics, specialized milk for infants, treatments for neurological conditions like epilepsy, and cancer medications.
No electricity means no medical service. Electricity is the life of medical service, for all machines; the ICU is completely dependent on electricity, as is the operating theatre, kidney dialysis…
In his blog post, “Mowing the lawn”: On Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza and the lies behind it Ali Abunimah links to a video interview with Shifa hospital’s Dr. Ayman Al Sahbani early on in the Israeli attacks, who says:
We don’t know what type of weapon was used. It led to severe burn from the upper torso; severe burn, black. We don ‘t know the type of chemical weapon used, because it is different from the other type of weapons. Used to kill, not to injure, to kill. The twelve martyrs, all of them severe shrapnel, severe injuries, and many of them without heads. In the past we saw burns, but last night, many of them direct trauma, many of them completely without their heads.
Some Palestinians in Gaza fear the worst for future days.
Saber Zaneen said Monday, “People hear rumours that Barack and Netanyahu wants to send tanks in, for a big attack worse than 2008. We have no idea what’s going to happen.”
Posturing in the media, Netanyahu said on Sunday: “We extracted a high price from them and will continue to do so.” On Monday, he said that the Israeli army is “prepared to expand its activities [in the Gaza Strip] as much as is necessary.”
Asking, “is it enough yet?” Jenny Graham writes Monday night of the 25 martyrs and more than 85 wounded, including 27 children, 13 girls and five elderly since Friday evening.
Omar Ghraeib notes what many Gazan Palestinians have said: “The situation in Gaza is unbearable. No one would cope with it, but Gazans do, because they are used to darkness, lack of power, lack of fuel, lack of gas, lack of water, cold weather, and dire conditions. And in addition to all that, we remain under siege.”
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian and was an International Solidarity Movement member in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
- Israeli Forces Open Fire at Gaza Funeral, Injure Five (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel TV celebrity, wife of vice PM demands bombing, “suffering” of Gaza civilians (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israel and Islamic Jihad have agreed to a ceasefire after Egypt brokered a “mutual truce” following four days of an Israeli assault on Gaza that left 25 Palestinians dead and at least 80 injured, mostly civilians.
Israeli officials and Islamic Jihad both confirmed that a deal was in place, although they were quick to warn that the agreement would be short lived if the other side stepped out of line.
“There is an understanding, and we are following what’s going on in the field,” Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Israeli public radio.
“Apparently things are calming down and this round of confrontations appears to be behind us.”
And in Gaza, an Islamic Jihad spokesman said the resistance group was willing to respect the deal if Israel would end its targeted killings of fighters.
“We accept a ceasefire if Israel agrees to apply it by ending its aggressions and assassinations,” Daud Shihab told AFP.
News of the agreement emerged early on Tuesday after Egypt brokered what the Egyptian intelligence official said was a “comprehensive and mutual” truce.
“An agreement on ending the current operations between the two sides, including a halt to assassinations, entered into force at 1:00am,” he told AFP, saying the deal was reached after the Egyptians held “intensive contacts” with both sides.
But the Israel minister denied there was any agreement to halt the military’s campaign of assassinations.
There was no immediate comment from Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who have been relatively silent during the latest round of violence. Hamas did not deploy any of its forces to defend Gaza from attack, nor fire any rockets into Israel in response.
Two Palestinians were killed Monday evening in the latest Israeli attack on Gaza, bringing the death toll in the besieged strip to 25 since Friday, according to medics.
The two men, who were members of the Al-Quds Brigades, were killed in an airstrike on the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, medical officials said.
The latest attacks began Friday evening when Israel killed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees in an airstrike near Gaza City.
Israel routinely carries out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, and has intensified its campaign in recent months, while Hamas insists on maintaining restraint.
Suspicions of a new war were raised after Israeli army chief Benny Gantz said in December that Israel should launch a “swift and painful” war against Gaza.
Israel’s previous war against Gaza in late 2008 killed at least 1,400 Palestinians and three Israeli non-combatants.
The Jewish state maintains a siege over Gaza and continues to build illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Testing Israel’s Iron Dome
The latest campaign tested Israel’s new Iron Dome short-range air defense system, designed to intercept rockets from Gaza and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
On Monday, 31 rockets headed for urban centers were targeted by Iron Dome, which scored 23 hits, the military said, a 75 percent success rate.
“The system is working very well,” Brigadier General Doron Gavish briefed reporters at one of the batteries in the vicinity of Ashdod, 25kms from the Gaza border.
“Rockets shot at the cities of Israel are being intercepted by the warriors who are operating the system,” said Gavish head of Israel’s national air defenses.
Visiting a battery on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the system’s “impressive achievements.”
The system, the first of its kind in the world, was developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with the help of US funding.
Each battery comprises detection and tracking radar, state-of-the-art fire control software, and three launchers, each with 20 interceptor missiles, military sources said.
The system is later to be deployed along the Lebanese border in the event of a future conflict with Hezbollah.
But a complete deployment is expected to take several years.
(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)
- 5 killed, 46 injured in fourth day of Gaza airstrikes (alethonews.wordpress.com)