Al-Akhbar | July 24, 2014
At least 15 people were killed, including a baby, when an Israeli tank shell slammed into a UN-run school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Gaza health ministry sources said.
The ministry also estimated that at least 200 people were wounded in the bombing.
A UN official confirmed “multiple dead and injured” at the school in Beit Hanoun, which was being used as a shelter by hundreds of Palestinians fleeing a major Israeli operation in the area. … continue
As we recently discussed, it’s becoming readily apparent that the FBI’s most vaunted counter-terrorism wins are almost all stings for “crimes” they made up all by themselves and then coerced others to join. Even for those that don’t have a problem with this kind of practice in theory, it has to be jarring to learn just how many of these “terrorists” are either suffering serious mental or social illnesses or have had their confessions beaten out of them. By all appearances, it looks pretty clear that the FBI is bumping up their “win” statistics on the backs of these highly questionable stings.
So of course local law enforcement is getting in on the action as well. Take the police in Washington D.C., for instance, who are featured in a Washington Post story detailing how they invent armed robbery plans whole-cloth and then recruit civilians to join up shortly before arresting these future-criminals. Some of the plots the police devised are quite detailed and terrifying, involving robbing liquor stores and targets that are supposedly drug dealers. After discussing the plans with an undercover cop, everyone is then arrested and charged with a variety of “conspiracy to commit” charges. According to some experts, the government is on firm legal ground with regards to entrapment.
The government is on solid legal ground, experts say, when it comes to fending off allegations that suspects were set up — or entrapped — by the police. Even if the government entices the defendant, the target has to show that he was not predisposed to commit the crime.
Sure, and if you’re a defendant in one of these cases, good luck convincing anyone that you didn’t have a predisposition for the crime you were tricked into thinking you were going to commit. Again, it’s easy to opine that these are bad people, but that doesn’t take into account mental illness and pressure applied by undercover officers eager to bolster their arrest statistics. According to reports, that kind of pressure included giving minors alcohol and/or taking them to strip clubs, because nobody has ever made themselves out to be something they’re not when drunk or in the presence of naked members of the opposite sex. The question becomes whether anything like the made up crime would have ever happened had it not been first invented by the police.
“When you have the government offering guns or the getaway car and making it really attractive, you have to ask: Is this an opportunity that would have really come around in real life? Would this person have been able to put together this type of crime without government assistance?” said Katharine Tinto, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York who has studied undercover policing tactics.
It’s even worse when the police engineer aspects of the made up crimes in the sting in order to manufacture longer sentences for the would-be criminals they ensnare.
Tinto and others also take issue with the government’s ability to essentially engineer tough penalties by controlling the details of the made-up crime. Part of the reason the District cases have been so successful, according to defense lawyers, is that the potential jail time for the federal conspiracy charge is steep enough that many defendants are more inclined to make a deal with prosecutors than risk losing at trial.
The global problem in all of this is the aim: this is all about bolstering crime-fighting statistics rather than responding to any actual crimes or criminals. Will the police likely get some violent criminals off the streets with this tactic? Sure, but so could actual police work and, as I indicated, that isn’t what this is all about. On top of that, the questions raised by the tactic are serious and some of the people caught up in all this probably aren’t benefited most by engineered jail time. Add to all that questions about who the police are generally going to look towards as targets of this kind of sting operation (gasp, minorities), and we should be left wondering why they aren’t fighting the crime that exists rather than making up crime that otherwise wouldn’t.
US airlines lifted a flight ban to Israel’s international airport just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah and returned to Cairo to continue pushing regional efforts to ink a ceasefire.
The US national aviation agency had imposed the restriction on Tuesday after a rocket hit a house very close to the runways, in a move mirrored by Europe.
It was renewed late on Wednesday, prompting Hamas to hail the suspension of Tel Aviv flights as a “great victory for the resistance.”
Shortly afterwards, the US agency rescinded the move.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport,” it said, while warning the situation was still “very fluid.” There was no immediate word on whether European airlines would follow suit.
Russia’s second-largest airline Transaero said Thursday it was also resuming flights to Israel.
“As of today, Transaero will operate all services between Russia and Israel according to schedule,” the company said in statement.
The wave of cancellations by foreign airlines emptied Israel’s usually bustling international gateway and hurt its hi-tech economy at the height of summer tourist season. It prompted an appeal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Washington to intervene.
The FAA said that after reviewing the security situation it had cancelled the ban late on Wednesday. US Airways, a unit of American Airlines Group Inc, said on Thursday it was resuming its non-stop Tel Aviv to Philadelphia service.
Israel predicted other U.S. airlines would follow suit within hours, though European carriers could take longer. Germany’s Lufthansa and Air Berlin said their suspension of flights to Tel Aviv would continue to Friday.
“The Europeans did not really deliberate over this, but acted more as a follow-up to the American decision,” said Gadi Regev, chief of staff for Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority.
A number of European flights have been diverted to Cyprus’s Larnaca airport for onward travel to Ben Gurion on Israeli carriers.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)
Senators Sanders & Leahy Join in Deeply Flawed Resolution Supporting Israel
All 100 Senators, including Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, joined in passing a Senate resolution on July 17, 2014 supporting “the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”
However, the facts differ.
A report issued by the authoritative “Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center” (ITIC), a private Israeli think tank that “has close ties with the country’s military leadership,” unintentionally debunked the Senate resolution more than a week before its unanimous consent vote in the Senate. The weekly ITIC reports regarding rocket fire are frequently quoted on the Israeli government’s own web site.
The ITIC July 8, 2014 report,“News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (July 2 – 8, 2014),” states: “For the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense [November 2012], Hamas participated in and claimed responsibility for rocket fire [on July 7, 2014].”
Thus, Hamas rocket fire only re-started on July 7 after a 19 month cease-fire. As we will see, this was nearly a month after Israeli forces launched massive military operations in the West Bank and Gaza starting on June 12. But those Israeli military operations were not the only provocation.
First, about the cease fire that was in place: Operation Pillar of Defense was an 8 day aerial assault on Gaza in November 2012 that ended with a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt. Graphs presented on the ITIC website show that the cease-fire was effective. In the weeks and months following that agreement, the ITIC consistently reported the absence of Hamas rocket fire. In addition, a May 2013 article in the Jerusalem Post, “IDF source: Hamas working to stop Gaza rockets,” reported that Hamas was policing other groups to prevent rocket fire.
The July 8 ITIC report also divulged why Hamas launched its first rocket fire at Israel in more than 19 months on July 7: On that night Israeli forces had bombed and killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza. The ITIC report includes a picture of the six Hamas members. Thus, a report from an authoritative Israeli source described the provocation for the resumption of rocket fire: Hamas rocket fire began only after Israeli forces had engaged in nearly a month of military operations in violation of the ceasefire agreement and had killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza.
The Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) also issues weekly reports, these reports focus on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories, including the West Bank and Gaza. In its July 10 weekly report, PCHR gave further details of the events that immediately preceded the July 7 Hamas rocket launchings: PCHR reports:
Between 01:00 and 16:00, the bodies of 5 members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) were recovered from a tunnel dug near Gaza International Airport in the southeast of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. They were identified as: Ibrahim Dawod al-Bal’awi, 24; ‘Abdul Rahman Kamal al-Zamli, 22; Jum’a ‘Atiya Shallouf, 26; and Khaled ‘Abdul Hadi Abu Mur, 21, and his twin brother, Mustafa. Another three members were recovered alive, but one was in a serious condition. It should be noted that the tunnel was repeatedly bombarded by Israeli warplanes and tanks. According to medical sources, the deceased inhaled toxic gases. The ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades declared in an online statement that 5 of its members were killed as a result of airstrikes that targeted places of resistance activities.
The facts show that Israeli forces had to work quite hard to get Hamas to end its cease-fire. The killing of the six Hamas members was not an isolated event. Israeli forces and settlers had gone wild on the West Bank starting on June 12 after the kidnapping of three Israeli teens. Israeli forces had also attacked 60 targets in Gaza during those three weeks of June. Then, on the night of July 7, 2014, the Israeli Air Force had attacked approximately 50 more “terrorist targets” in the Gaza Strip, as described in the ITIC report.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on July 3:
Israel’s military operations in the West Bank following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers have amounted to collective punishment. The military operations included unlawful use of force, arbitrary arrests, and illegal home demolitions.
The HRW report also states that:
Israeli forces have arrested about 700 Palestinians since June 12, 2014, and are currently detaining at least 450, some during the large-scale military incursions and others who are known supporters or leaders of the Hamas Reform and Change Party, which won Palestinian elections in 2006, according to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner’s rights group.
Giving more details, several of the weekly reports from the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) indicate that Israeli forces and settlers killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 51 during 369 incursions into the West Bank between June 12 and July 2 and that Israeli forces raided hundreds of houses on the West Bank each week. Israeli forces also launched the 60 bombing attacks on Gaza and one ground incursion, wounding 27 people in Gaza during those three weeks.
While all these attacks in the West Bank and Gaza did produce rocket fire from other groups in Gaza during June–which the ITIC reports had been almost zero during the previous month–the attacks did not provoke Hamas itself to fire rockets. To predictably accomplish that feat, Israeli forces had to go further and kill the 6 Hamas members on July 7.
The Senate resolution names Hamas in nearly every one of its deeply flawed paragraphs. Yet it fails to mention any of the facts about Israel’s military operations in the West Bank and Gaza.
Let’s turn this around for a moment: Had the Israeli public been subjected to a massive military crackdown including 369 military incursions into Israel and 110 bombing attacks on Israel during which 11 Israelis had been killed, 78 wounded, and 700 arrested, and then had six Israeli soldiers been killed in a single air and ground military operation, would the Senate have omitted mention of all such facts and voted by unanimous consent that responding Israeli forces were “unprovoked?” Would the Senate have voted that the one attacking Israel was defending itself and that Israeli forces were the ones engaging in “belligerent actions?”
Why did the Senate get this so wrong? Why did Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy allow their names to be used for pro-war propaganda so at variance with the facts?
James Marc Leas is a Vermont attorney and is a past co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee. He collected evidence in the Gaza Strip from November 27 to December 3, 2012 as part of a 20 member delegation from the US and Europe and co-authored several articles describing findings. He also participated in the National Lawyers Guild delegation to Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in February 2009 and contributed to its report, Onslaught: Israel’s Attack on Gaza and the Rule of Law.
A day after journalist, writer, and frequent MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal harshly criticized that very cable news network during a broadcast of “Ronan Farrow Daily” for its biased and deferential pro-Israel coverage of the current military assault on Gaza, she appeared on “All In with Chris Hayes” to further discuss the matter.
The evidence of anti-Palestinian bias in the mainstream media – including cable news networks – is beyond question, as numerous studies and analyses have shown. A common refrain – heard again last night in Hayes’ attempt to defend his employer’s coverage of the ongoing Israeli massacre of Palestinians – is that Israeli government officials are more accessible than officials from Palestinian groups. But this claim rests on the assumption that allowing politicians and their spokespeople to repeat honed talking points is the same thing as journalism.
In January 2014, for example, an internal study of the past 11 years of NPR’s Israel-Palestine coverage found that its reports and dispatches suffered from significant “imbalance” between Israeli and Palestinian voices. Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos summarized the report, noting that such skewed representation “is to be expected.” Why? Here’s what he writes:
Israel generates more news in part because its officials are more open and the country is more democratic than in the Palestinian territories. Israel stages more newsworthy “official” events, such as elections, and its economy is far more dynamic. Israel also is an ally of the U.S., and its officials frequently visit. The Gaza Strip in particular is miniscule. NPR’s sole correspondent is based in Jerusalem.
Naturally, no mention is ever made in this litany to Israel’s crushing occupation and siege of Gaza, the deliberate destruction of its economy and infrastructure, or the fact that Israel is “more democratic” than an isolated and imprisoned enclave much in the same way Apartheid South Africa was ostensibly “more democratic” than the Bantustans created for its inconvenient and unwanted inhabitants.
“I had [Israeli government spokesman] Mark Regev on this program for 16 minutes, alright? That’s a very long interview but there was a lot to talk to him about,” Hayes told Jebreal last night, after noting that Hamas officials are hard to book for on-air interviews.
In all of her appearances on the network over the past two years as MSNBC contributor, Jebreal has routinely been introduced, described, and referred to on-air as either a “journalist” or an “MSNBC contributor,” and usually both.
During her appearance on “All In with Chris Hayes,” however, which followed her widely-reported condemnation of Israel/Palestine coverage, the chyron describing Jebreal read: “Palestinian Journalist.” That kind of description serves to paint her comments automatically as themselves biased and emotional, rather than factual and impartial. It would be as inappropriate as frequent contributor Jonathan Alter being referred to as a “Jewish Journalist.”
Azzun, Occupied Palestine – On Monday, July 21st, Israeli forces used Palestinian civilians as human shields in the village of Azzun, a village west of the city of Nablus.
On most evenings several Israeli jeeps are stationed just outside the Azzun’s north gate. At 10 o’clock in the evening on the night in question, approximately 15 soldiers entered the main square of the village.
Witnesses report that a few young men responded to this invasion by throwing stones at the jeeps from a distance of approximately 200 meters. The soldiers spent the next few minutes stopping cars on the road and began forcing the drivers to arrange their cars in a circle. The soldiers then forced these residents of Azzun to surrender their keys. The occupants of the cars included women and children. They were very frightened and the soldiers did not allow them to leave. The Israeli forces positioned themselves inside the circle formed by the cars, began to fire tear gas at the youths, and knelt behind the civilian occupants of the cars as to protect themselves.
Israeli forces have a long history of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. From the years 2000 to 2005, they admitted to using human shields more than 1,200 times. This practice was banned by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2005, but human rights groups have accused the Israeli army of continuing to use it. During the Gaza massacre of 2008-2009 Israeli occupation forces were accused by Amnesty International, as well as former Israeli soldiers, of using Palestinian children as human shields.
At least 15 people were killed, including a baby, when an Israeli tank shell slammed into a UN-run school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Gaza health ministry sources said.
The ministry also estimated that at least 200 people were wounded in the bombing.
A UN official confirmed “multiple dead and injured” at the school in Beit Hanoun, which was being used as a shelter by hundreds of Palestinians fleeing a major Israeli operation in the area.
“At 14:50, a shell landed in or near” an UNRWA school being used as a shelter, a UN official told AFP.
“People in the shelter were hurt,” he said, with a spokesman for Gaza’s emergency services reporting deaths.
The director of a local hospital said various medical centers around Beit Hanoun were receiving the wounded.
“Such a massacre requires more than one hospital to deal with it,” said Ayman Hamdan, director of the Beit Hanoun hospital.
A Reuters photographer at the scene said pools of blood had collected on the ground and on student desks in the courtyard of the school near the apparent impact mark of the shell.
Scores of crying families who had been living in the school ran with their children to the hospital where the victims were being treated a few hundred meters away.
Laila Al-Shinbari, a woman who was at school when it was shelled, told Reuters families had gathered in the courtyard expecting to be evacuated shortly in a Red Cross convoy.
“All of us sat in one place when suddenly four shells landed on our heads … Bodies were on the ground, (there was) blood and screams. My son is dead and all my relatives are wounded including my other kids,” she wept.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that the UN agency had unsuccessfully tried to coordinate with Israeli forces prior to the attack to let civilians evacuate the school.
Israel has attacked at least three UNRWA schools in the past four days. UNRWA facilities have served as shelters for tens of thousands of Palestinians since the beginning of the offensive.
At least 76 Palestinians have been killed on Thursday, the 17th day of a deadly Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. In total more than 770 Palestinians have been killed in Operation “Protective Edge.”
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
Graham Phillips (Photo from grahamwphillips.com)
A journalist released from the ANNA news agency, who was captured along with RT contributor Graham Phillips, told RT that they were taken hostage by the Ukrainian army and tortured and beaten. Phillips’ fate remains unknown.
ANNA news agency cameraman, Vadim Aksyonov, has been released while RT contributor Graham Phillips, a UK national, is being held captive, ANNA news told RT.
According to the ANNA news press service, Aksyonov who was released about 3 hours ago is in “terrible state” as he hasn’t slept for a day and was tortured.
The journalist told RT how he and his colleague – RT contributor Graham Phillips were taken hostages.
“We were captured in [Donetsk] airport. Graham [Phillips] ran to the parking, I ran after him. Then we were taken by people with guns,” Aksyonov told RT.
Vadim Aksyonov said he is sure that the Ukrainian army was behind their kidnapping as they were wearing its insignia.
When they were taken to the cells at some checkpoint, they were tortured and beaten, he added.
“At first we were kept together, then separately. I heard him [Phillips] screaming from pain and he heard me screaming, too,” he told RT.
According to Aksyonov, their captors then took them somewhere. He heard that Phillips was dropped in the city of Krasnoarmeisk, in the Donetsk Region of eastern Ukraine.
Aksyonov thinks that Graham Philips might be taken to either Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, or Zaporizhie, a city in southern Ukraine which borders on the Donetsk Region, or to the city of Uzhhorod in western Ukraine.
The agency still hasn’t reveal the fate of two other hostages – an employee of the press service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, and possibly an acquaintance of Phillips, who accompanied the journalist to the airport.
Phillips has been reporting about the developments in Ukraine for several months now. According to research from Brandwatch social networks monitor, he has become the most popular author in Twitter reporting on the situation in Ukraine.
It is not the first time, the RT contributor has been taken hostage. He was detained once at a checkpoint in Mariupol and held captive by Kiev military for over 36 hours in May.
Journalists from a range of media outlets have come under fire, some of them even detained, during the conflict in eastern Ukraine. There have also been reports that Ukrainian troops have fired at people with cameras, as well as people wearing press vests.
Russian journalists have been captured by Kiev’s forces throughout the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
In June, journalists from Russia’s Zvezda TV channel spent two days in captivity, after being detained by the Ukrainian National Guard.
In May, two LifeNews journalists were taken hostage for two days by the National Guard, prompting an online #SaveOurGuys campaign.
Several journalists have also been killed while covering the unrest in eastern Ukraine.
In June, a Russian cameraman from Channel One TV, Anatoly Klyan, was shot by Kiev forces in Donetsk. Also in June, Rossiya TV journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his colleague, sound engineer Anton Voloshin, were killed in shelling near Lugansk.
In May, Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian interpreter Andrey Mironov were killed when they were caught in a mortar attack close to the village of Andreevka, a couple of kilometers from Slavyansk.
Kiev is not interested in a fair and unbiased investigation into the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine, so it is sabotaging the work of international experts, one of the self-defense forces leaders said on Wednesday.
Kiev’s authorities have been obstructing the international investigation into the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane since day one, Deputy Prime Minister of People’s Republic of Donetsk Andrey Purgin told Russia-24 TV channel on Wednesday.
Purgin said it became clear that Kiev is sabotaging the probe two days after the incident, when international experts were not let into the area, as Kiev claimed it could not guarantee their safety.
Kiev simply refused to accompany the international experts, Purgin stated. The Malaysian group of experts made it down to the crash alone, with no security from Kiev.
It took four days for international experts to gain access to the site. The reason is that even after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 40-kilometer ceasefire zone around the crash site, Malaysian experts came under heavy shelling from the Ukrainian army while making their way within the ceasefire zone.
The Boeing 777-200ER, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 passengers and crew on board, was shot down over Ukraine on July 17. There were no survivors.
Kiev authorities have accused the militia of being behind the catastrophe. However, the militia stressed that it doesn’t possess the means to shoot down an aircraft at such an altitude.
Following the crash, the dead bodies were left under 30C heat, as self-defense forces were pressured by the OSCE not to move the bodies until the international experts arrived, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s Prime Minister Aleksandr Boroday told BBC.
“We waited a day, two, three – but no experts,” Boroday said. “They were all sitting in Kiev.” To keep the dead bodies laying there became “absurd” and “inhumane,” he added.
The Ukrainian militia handed over to Malaysian experts the black boxes from the plane on Tuesday. Investigators say they have found no evidence that the black box recorder was tampered with.
Read more: Ukrainian militia hand over MH17 flight recorders to Malaysia
The Dutch Safety Board said it has taken charge of the international investigation. It will coordinate a team of 24 investigators from Ukraine, Malaysia, Russia, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It added that four Dutch investigators are currently operating in Ukraine.
The bodies of the first victims from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrived back in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the UN Security Council condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and called for an international probe into the incident in a unanimously adopted resolution.
The Khuza’a area of east Khan Younis was cut off from the rest of the city for hours on Wednesday night, with medics unable to enter, journalists forced out and Israeli military forces engaged in a ground and air assault that has been ongoing, and has now sparked fears of a massacre similar to the one on Sunday, in Shuja’eyya, in which more than 75 people were killed.
Early Thursday, Israeli forces agreed to let up the assault for an hour to allow medics to retrieve the bodies of the dead and wounded.
Doctor Yusef Abu Al-Rish, the Deputy Health Minister of Gaza, issued a statement that reads:
Another massacre is underway in Khan Younis, where relentless Israeli shelling and sniper fire are wreaking death and destruction on all that moves in the zone east of Khan Younis city.
The villages of Khuza’a, Al Fukhari, Abasan Alkabir, Abasan Al Sa’ir, Jarara, and Bani Suhela received no warning of the attacks, and no warnings to evacuate before the bombardment began at around 11pm last night.
The intensity of Israeli shelling around the Algerian Hospital in Abasan Alkabir shattered its windows, and led to its evacuation, leaving only the emergency department operational.
Despite residents’ frantic calls to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for help in finding a safe route and safe vehicles to escape, the ICRC was unable to get a response from Israeli authorities until dawn today, when five bodies and 17 injured were retrieved and taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.
An unknown number of dead and injured remain behind, as ambulances are prevented access.
Israeli military has declared the Khuza’a area a closed military zone, preventing even medics from entering it, but reports from Khuza’a stated that 12 were dead by morning.
The casualties in other villages are unable to be established at this time. Random shelling continues unabated, and Israeli snipers inside houses are attacking anything that moves.
Homes are being destroyed over the heads of entire families. Thousands have been displaced, many fleeing to the Nasser and European Gaza Hospitals.
Even hospitals are not safe, however. Monday’s attack on Al Aqsa hospital has left staff and patients alike fearing for their lives even within medical facilities.
The reality is that there is no safe sanctuary, for residents, patients or health personnel alike.
As they did in Shuja’eyya, the Israeli military is indiscriminately attacking civilians.
As they did in Shuja’eyya, the Israelis military is refusing to provide humanitarian access to the dead and injured, in clear breach of humanitarian law.
As they did in Shuja’eyya, the Israeli military is committing war crimes, with apparent impunity.
The Ministry of Health Gaza demands that the international community require the Israeli military to
1. Immediately cease all attacks on civilian targets in Gaza;
2. Immediately cease all attacks on medical facilities and personnel in Gaza;
3. Immediately provide access to the dead and injured, as required by international humanitarian law.
Hamas has hit Palestine’s bloodthirsty occupier where it could hurt real bad — in the soft under-belly that is Ben Gurion airport. The Resistance has achieved this by lobbing a rocket too close for comfort and causing air carriers in the United States and Europe to halt flights to Tel Aviv after warnings from governmental agencies concerned about passenger safety.
“The carriers are making the right call,” said Robert Mann, an airline consultant in Port Washington, New York. “They are ultimately legally responsible for their operations and thus, they have to be at least as cautious and in many cases more cautious than any guideline that they are given.”
Reuters reported that Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, called for US airlines to resume flights to Israel. “There is no need for US carriers to suspend flights and reward terrorism,” said a statement from Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.
But a senior Obama administration official said: “We’re not going to overrule the FAA, period… when a rocket lands a mile from that airport, that kind of trips their wire.”
Strictly speaking Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, belongs to the Palestinians anyway. It was formerly Lydda airport; and Lydda, a major town in its own right during the British mandate, was designated Palestinian in the 1947 UN Partition. In July 1948 Israeli terrorist troops seized Lydda, shot up the town and drove out the population as part of their ethnic cleansing programme. In the process they massacred 426 men, women, and children. 176 of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque. See here for the lurid details.
Those who survived were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat leaving a trail of bodies — men, women and children — along the way. Israeli troops carried away 1,800 truck loads of loot. Jewish immigrants then flooded in and Lydda was given a Hebrew name, Lod.
So Israel has no real right to Lydda/Lod/Ben Gurion airport — it was stolen in a terror raid, as was so much else. It’s Israeli terror that has been rewarded all these years by airline flights.
Today the airport handles over 14 million passengers a year and is the international gateway to Israel. Hamas’s thrust at Ben Gurion may be just a prick. But they only have to lob one more rocket into the vicinity and and it becomes a serious belly wound. Most visitor traffic from abroad would dry up.
Before Israel’s flag-wavers get all hot under the collar, let’s consider what happened to Gaza’s airport. The Oslo II Agreement of 1995 provided for one to be constructed. The Yasser Arafat International airport was built with funding from Japan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Germany and Morocco, and cost $86 million. Arafat and US President Clinton attended the opening in 1998. Owned and operated by the Palestinian Authority it was capable of handling 700,000 passengers a year.
In December 2001 Israel destroyed the radar station and control tower, and cut the runway.
The only usable airstrip in Gaza today is a small airfield at Gush Katif, which is only suitable for short take-off and landing aircraft. The Israeli air blockade prevents it being used.
After this and all the other economic outrages committed against the Palestinians, Hamas will taste sweet revenge it they succeed in shutting down traffic through Ben Gurion and causing grief to Israel’s tourist trade and other business.
Q: Why is Egypt preventing medical aid to Gaza?
A: So that Israel can use it as a weapon, that’s why.
This explains why dozens of volunteer medical personnel cannot reach the desperately understaffed hospitals in Gaza. It explains why Egypt turned away a convoy of desperately needed medical supplies.
In this time of crisis, Egypt has sealed the border with Gaza, except occasionally to Palestinians who are registered with Israel as residents of Gaza. For anything else, please apply to Israel.
That’s fine for UNRWA, ANERA, UPA and other groups Israel has approved as relief agencies and who buy a lot of their supplies from Israeli sources, store it in Israeli warehouses, use Israeli transportation, have personnel that live in Israel and generally meet Israeli requirements and contribute to the Israeli economy. But what about doctors that carry Lebanese passports? Or Pakistanis, Algerians, Venezuelans, Sudanese, Iranians, Cubans or Syrians? Or who are not permitted to travel to or through Israel because they are on a long list of people who are critical of Israel, such as the organizers of the relief convoy that was turned away? Until the Sisi administration they used to be able to enter through Egypt.
That’s exactly the point. Israel wants them all to go to hell because they are not friends of Israel. Even better, let the people of Gaza go to hell – its children, mothers, grandparents – let them die or better still become infirm and a burden on this already crippled society.
Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hrs. enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterdays hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormous resolute.
– Dr. Mads Gilbert, al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza
This is what Israel has in mind. In effect, it has turned back the clock to when it destroyed nearly two thousand homes along the Gaza border, making homeless around 20,000 Palestinians and creating the “Philadelphi corridor”, a path of destruction the width of three football fields and eight miles long. It then controlled all of the borders of the Gaza strip, encroaching and destroying everything on the Gaza side up to an average depth of a half kilometer, and in the sea from a treaty-protected twenty kilometers to less than three unprotected, confining the ever growing population into an ever shrinking area with ever fewer resources.
Now, with Israel’s sweethearts running Egypt, it is once again fully in charge of that border, as well, and can treat the Gaza Strip like a hunting reserve, where its troops can practice their skills every couple of years. This is necessary in order to assure that the new recruits acquire the same genocidal experience as their older peers and preserve Israel’s shared cultural traditions.
These are the real aims of the Gaza invasion.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.