The arming of US police agencies with military-grade weaponry and tactics can be traced back, at the very least, to the creation of the paramilitary “Special Weapons and Tactics” Unit (SWAT) in 1967. In Overkill: Rise of Paramilitary Policing journalist Radley Balko notes that what inspired the heavily militarized SWAT team of today was “a specialized force in Delano, California, made up of crowd control officers, riot police, and snipers, assembled to counter the farm worker uprisings led by Cesar Chavez.” Balko writes in August 2013 for The Wall Street Journal that by 1975 from this first experimental SWAT unit grew to “approximately 500 such units. Today, there are thousands. According to surveys conducted by criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, just 13 percent of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team in 1983. By 2005, the figure was up to 80 percent.”
In War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, published in June 2014 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), it is reported that federal programs “are arming state and local law enforcement agencies with the weapons and tactics of war with almost no public discussion or oversight.” One such policy is the Department of Defense (DoD) Excess Property Program, or the 1033 Program, which “provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.” Items provided by the DoD include, but are not limited to, mine-resistant ambush protected armored vehicles, aircrafts, grenade launchers, countless machine guns, magazines, bomb suits, forced entry tools and units of surveillance.
In the small city of Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed African American teenager, Michael Brown, was shot multiple times by a police officer on August 9. Witnesses say that the police officer had initiated a confrontation with Brown, and then physically assaulted him, as reported by Margaret Hartmann for New York Magazine :
“Brown’s friend, Dorin Johnson, says they were walking in the street when the officer pulled up and told them to “get the eff onto the sidewalk.” Johnson says the officer then reached “his arm out the window and grabbed my friend around the neck.” Witness Piaget Crenshaw said he saw the officer chasing Brown. “They shot him and he fell. He put his arms up to let them know that he was compliant and he was unarmed, and they shot him twice more and he fell to the ground and died.”
After the murder of Michael Brown, protests began to quickly take shape in Ferguson in response, not only at the scene of the crime but in front of the Ferguson Police Department headquarters. The police response to these protesters, many of whom literally had their hands raised above their heads while shouting “don’t shoot!”, was alarming – dogs were called, and heavily armed police officers lined up, intimidating the men, women and children of Ferguson. At least one police officer was recorded shouting, “Bring it, all you fucking animals! Bring it!” Extremely troubling was the implementation of a no-fly zone over Ferguson, meant “to stop media from flying over the area to film.”
The targeting of Black communities by law enforcement is historic and ubiquitous; it has long colored every aspect of life for even those indirectly impacted by police actions – when systematic racism meets a militarized police force the outcome is continued dehumanization of Black bodies, societal acceptance of black deaths at the hands of the police and a disastrous escalation, oftentimes with public approval, of violent tactics against the Black people and communities of color. Modern US police departments share a colonial history that gives context to police violence of today – recognizing this framework is essential when examining how police brutality has developed historically. From constables in the 1600s who made up a sort of “neighborhood watch,” wherein they would capture slaves and prevent them from organizing for payment, the slave patrols of the early 1700s, the brazen appointment of police officers by way of their political affiliations in the 1880’s and stop-and-frisk, adopted from English common law, we learn that not only is violence an inherent part of the institution itself but it is a necessary component which allows for the state to control its citizens, and it has emerged and developed in the most destructive of ways. Police officers are trained to use force and are given the most lethal of weapons in order for them to do so and, according to data presented in the June 2014 report by the ACLU, this violence is overwhelmingly directed towards people of color. “Sixty-one percent of all the people impacted by SWAT raids in drug cases were minorities” and a majority are Black:
“[W]hen the data was examined by agency (and with local population taken into consideration), racial disparities in SWAT deployments were extreme. As shown in the table and graph below, in every agency, Blacks were disproportionately more likely to be impacted by a SWAT raid than whites, sometimes substantially so. For example, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Blacks were nearly 24 times more likely to be impacted by a SWAT raid than whites were, and in Huntington, West Virginia, Blacks were 37 times more likely. Further, in Ogden, Utah, Blacks were 40 times more likely to be impacted by a SWAT raid than whites were.”
Despite this, the focus on the actions of individual officers, while warranted, should not overwhelm the discourse – the data presented by the ACLU is not only an indictment of police officers alone but of the police institution itself. Police agencies have created an environment which not only employs violence against minorities but encourages violence against them.
Present-day US law enforcement as an institution has cooperated with a long list of state agencies which are integral components of the larger machinery of government as well as international police forces. The joint training between the United States and Israel is one such example. In May 2010, 50 retired US admirals and generals vigorously argued that Israel is a security asset in a letter to President Obama, that “American police and law enforcement officials have reaped the benefit of close cooperation with Israeli professionals in the areas of domestic counter-terrorism practices and first response to terrorist attacks,” they wrote in part. In 2010, the Anti-Defamation League publicized that it had sponsored 15 senior law enforcement officials – including from the FBI, NYPD and Boston Police – to take part in an intensive “counter-terrorism training mission” in Israel so that they could share “information, strategies and tactics,” then again in 2011 and 2013. This program, which was first established in 2003, has sent over 115 state, federal and local law enforcement executives to Israel. In 2013, members of a US bomb squad from Arizona, including a US deputy, traveled to Israel for training which included “going to a West Bank outpost with the Israeli National Police bomb squad… learning about port inspections as they relate to counter explosives and counter IED operations.”
One of the reasons for this training? “To improve techniques and tactics they use along the US-Mexico border.”
The ADL is not the only organization boasting of this militarized US-Israel partnership. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has an entire publication dedicated to this “strategic partnership,” noting that “Israel has worked with multiple American agencies, including the FBI, NYPD, LAPD, and the Washington, D.C. Police Department.” According to the pamphlet not only have the U.S. Capitol Police undergone training in “Israeli counterterrorism techniques” but the partnership between these two colonial entities is far reaching, even beyond the scope of traditional law enforcement, with FEMA and the National Guard “often [traveling] to Israel to participate in Israeli homeland security drills.” The United States is not only learning from the brutality of the Israeli occupation forces but sharing their knowledge with other nations. The Middle Eastern Law Enforcement Training Center, which is co-sponsored by the FBI and the U.A.E. at the Dubai Police Academy, where FBI agents offer special training courses that “[involve] many aspects of law enforcement, including ways to combat white-collar crime, violent crime, forensics and counter-terrorism.” The United States also conducts military exchange programs in places like Egypt where US forces and Egyptian forces take part in joint military exercises, and offers FBI training to Egypt’s secret police who “routinely tortured detainees and suppressed political opposition” according to victim testimony.
Police institutions, which continue to work and expand under the guise of law while merging with the most prominent characters behind war-making, including the arms industry, lobbyists, and politicians, demand that communities, most often those of color, surrender what little autonomy they have so that they may receive “protection.” That they are ever permitted to collect on this guardianship is of no consequence because these institutions define protection and determine, for everyone, what is a most satisfactory response to any and all actions on the part of the community members.
Black men and women have long fought, with their blood, for the decentralization and democratization of the police and the right of their communities to determine their future without threat of police brutality – the Black Panther’s Ten Point Program, written in 1966, is a clear-cut example. “We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People,” the program reads in part. “We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality.” An article in the Palm Beach Post, published in 1969, reads “Decentralized Police Sought By Black Panthers”:
“Six intense Black Panthers have come in out of the West as advance men for a national conference which will drumbeat a simplistic theme – decentralize the police systems of big cities, place the cops under neighborhood control and give each community its own police commissioner.”
US police forces uphold white supremacy with their racist implementation of violence, where in places like Ogden, Utah, Black people “were 40 times more likely to be impacted by a SWAT raid than whites were,” according to the ACLU. These forces work towards the preservation of capitalism, and the police, as an institution, use elitism, violence and authoritarianism in order to preserve the state.
Decentralization is not only possible but proving to be a necessary process in order to dismantle the structuralized and militarized brutality that communities of color face at the hands of racist paramilitary police forces. The police have proven that they are not accountable to the communities they allegedly “serve and protect,” and so in order to implement restorative justice the institution itself should be dismantled and replaced with an organization that is transparent, represents the diversity of these communities and which, most importantly, is limited in regards to the scope of the organization’s power.
GAZA CITY – Egyptian authorities denied entry to a Kuwaiti delegation bringing aid to the Gaza Strip on Thursday as it opened the Rafah crossing for humanitarian cases.
Palestinian crossing officials said that injured Palestinians, medical patients and foreign nationals were allowed to use the crossing and Gaza residents in Egypt were allowed to return.
Egyptian security prevented a four-man Kuwaiti delegation carrying medical aid from entering Gaza.
No reason was given for the refusal.
Egyptian authorities have largely kept the Rafah crossing closed since the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The terminal is the only border crossing that most of Gaza’s 1.8 million people can use to leave the enclave.
By The Numbers
Gaza: Indiscriminate Israeli War Crimes against Civilians
Number of Gazans killed by Israel: 1,943 (with 80 percent civilian casualties including 437 children and 243 women)
Number of Gazans wounded by Israel: 9,886
Number of Houses Destroyed: 5,622; Damaged: at least 36,700
Number of Mosques Destroyed: 64; Damaged: 152
Number of Schools or Educational Facilities Destroyed or Damaged: 189
Number of Hospitals or Medical Facilities Destroyed or Damaged: 24
Number of Structures Destroyed including the only Electric Power Plant: More than 1500
Egypt: A Brutal Military Coup To Halt Democracy and Silence Political Dissent
Number of people killed by the coup regime from July 3, 2013 to January 31, 2014: at least 3248 (including 299 students with 289 males and 10 females (table 5 at the bottom); at least 80 died while in custody)
Number of people injured by the coup regime from July 3, 2013 to February 28, 2014: 18,535 (including at least 1400 students)
Number of people arrested by the coup regime from July 3, 2013 to May 31, 2014: 41,163 (By April 2014 only 9,220 have been tried with about 1,260 receiving death sentences in mass trials)
Syria: a Bloody Civil War Fueled by Sectarianism and Foreign Interference
Number of Syrian Refugees and Displaced Persons according to the UN by end of July 2014: 2,951,423 (three fourths of which are women and children)
American Military Aid to Israel: Aiding and Abetting Israeli War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
Israel GDP per capita: $38,700 (more than Japan)
Gaza GDP per capita: less than $2,000 (164 in the world; less than half of West Bank)
Annual U.S. military aid to Israel: $3.6 Billion ($3.1B in direct military aid and $504 million in subsidies to Israeli military industries)
Daily U.S. military aid to Israel: $10 million
All Time Aid US Aid to Israel: $125 Billion ($160B when adjusted to inflation)
Amount of weapons and munitions US sent to Israel since its 2012 war on Gaza: $276 million not including exports of military transport equipment and high technologies
Amount of stockpile of ammunition the US military stores in Israel for that country’s use (called War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel): $1 Billion
Amount of rocket launchers, guided missiles, bombs, grenades and munitions of war US sent to Israel between January and May 2014: $37 million
Congressional Vote to give Israel $225 million in emergency military aid in early August 2014: House of Representatives: 395 to 8; Senate: 100 to 0.
The eight courageous dissenters in the House (four Democrats and four Republicans) are: Keith Ellison (D-MN), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Justin Amash (R-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC), Tom Massie (R-KY), and Mark Sanford (R-SC).
Esam Al-Amin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An official Egyptian document has revealed that Egyptian authorities are imposing incapacitating conditions on relief convoys seeking to deliver medical and food aid to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.
The document addressed the “regulatory rules for the entry of aid convoys to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing at this stage.”
The document, which was handed by the Egyptian authorities to the Arab branches of the Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations during their latest meeting in Jordan, stated that the Egyptian authorities have obliged relief organisations seeking to deliver aid to Gaza to submit a request to Egypt through the foreign ministries of the countries in which they operate. The request should include a list of the aid items that the organisations plan to take into Gaza through Rafah.
Relief agencies must then wait for the approval of the Egyptian foreign ministry before they start sending aid to Gaza.
The document specified that aid items must arrive at either the Ismailiya Airport or at Port Said. Aid agencies are required to pay the cost of unloading and shipping the food and medical aid items in any of the two locations.
Relief agencies are banned from providing construction material, gas cylinders, fuel, or funds into Gaza, according to the document, which also notified the Red Cross and Red Crescent that only a limited number of persons will be allowed to accompany the aid items into Gaza.
The document further stressed that journalists who seek to cross to Gaza must provide their names and passport information to the Egyptian authorities beforehand, and they must obtain approval from their countries’ foreign ministries or Cairo embassies. However, Egypt reserves the right to refuse people entry into Gaza through the Rafah crossing without specifying the reasons for this decision.
With regards medical teams, the document noted that doctors are required to submit requests to their countries’ foreign ministries and coordinate with the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah before they can obtain the Egyptian authorities’ approval to enter Gaza.
The head of the Algerian Red Crescent Saida Benhabyles, who is also a former minister, said in a press conference held in the Algerian capital that the Egyptian authorities want to put the logo of the Egyptian Red Crescent along with the logo of any aid or relief agency delivering aid into Gaza.
Benhabyles announced that, due to the Egyptian conditions, the Algerian Red Crescent had to cancel a donation campaign that had aimed to deliver blood to Gaza.
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – This morning a group of over 70 people, mostly women and children carrying foreign passports, planned to take advantage of the ceasefire to leave Gaza and enter Egypt. Israel began bombing Rafah and the Egyptian personnel closed the Egyptian side of the border, leaving them trapped at the crossing, as the bombs fall around them. The Red Cross is not being allowed to reach them due to the bombing in the area.
Their nationalities include German, Norwegian, Bulgarian, and Egyptian.
Call the Egyptian Embassy in your country.
Call the German, Norwegian, Bulgarian foreign office and political representatives to demand that the Egyptian government opens the crossing and allows civilians to take refuge.
“The situation is very scary, the borders are closed and we are here, 70 people, mostly women and children trapped. I can see the smoke and fire, and I can hear the explosions very close to where we are,” said Nalan, one of the women trapped at the Rafah Crossing, talking to The Real News.
Listen to the audio recording of a phone call with Nalan Al Sarraj, correspondent for The Real News Network, trapped at the crossing here.
A call issued by civil society organizations and public figures including African National Congress (ANC) leaders Ahmed Kathrada, Ronnie Kasrils, and former vice president of the European Parliament, Luisa Morgantini and Richard Falk states that “Despite a call from Egyptian citizens to lift the siege, the Egyptian government which controls one border and has the option to be part of a humanitarian response to the besieged people of Gaza, has instead supported the Israeli plan for return to the status quo of slow genocide.”
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.
TUNIS – Head of Tunisia’s al-Nahda party Rashid al-Ghannoushi revealed on Monday night that Egypt has refused to receive a Tunisian plane bound for Gaza loaded with medicines and medical supplies.
Al-Ghannoushi told Al-Jazeera TV network that the Egyptian authorities had refused to allow the plane to land at the airport nearest to the Gaza Strip, pointing out that it was carrying medical supplies badly needed in the beleaguered Strip.
The plane was supposed to fly back injured people who sustained serious wounds during the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza to receive treatment in Tunisia, he explained.
Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki had declared a week ago his country’s intention to send a plane carrying medicines and medical supplies for Gaza Strip.
Along the same line, the Egyptian authorities continued to prevent a team of European specialized surgeons from having access to Gaza despite possessing the needed papers for that.
Dr. Mohammed Abu Nada, coordinator for the Forum of Palestinian Doctors in Europe, told Quds Press on Tuesday that they have been prevented by Egyptian army from entering into Gaza for the fifth day despite having official permits allowing their access.
The FPDE delegation includes a number of general surgeons in addition to surgeons specialized in vascular surgery and pediatric surgery.
583 Palestinians were killed and 3640 injured in 15 days of Israeli ferocious pounding of the besieged enclave. Hundreds of homes, hospitals, mosques, and schools were demolished during the Israeli airstrikes, navy shelling, and artillery bombardment.
Forty members of the UAE “aid convoy” which entered the Gaza Strip last week have been revealed as intelligence agents. They were, it is believed, trying to collect information about Hamas and its infrastructure in the besieged territory.
According to one informed source, a local Palestinian recognised one of the agents as a soldier in the UAE armed forces. He contacted the security forces in Gaza who took the agent in for questioning.
Other members of the “aid convoy” then made contact with officials in the United Arab Emirates. In turn, they asked disgraced Fatah official Mohamed Dahlan, who now lives in and is sponsored by the UAE government, to try to secure a safe and swift exit for the agents.
“Dahlan called one of his followers from Fatah who spoke with Hamas officials and they agreed to let the convoy leave immediately,” the source said.
Palestinians in Gaza were surprised by the sudden exit of the UAE personnel on Saturday. The field hospital that they had ostensibly arrived to set-up was left uncompleted.
Commentators say that suspicions should have been aroused when the convoy was allowed by the Egyptians to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, as no other convoys have been allowed to enter since the start of the Israeli attack and invasion. Media reports on Saturday said that the Egyptian army has banned and attacked three international aid convoys trying to enter the enclave.
Egypt has closed Rafah and does not allow wounded Palestinians to travel abroad for treatment or let much-needed medicine and medical equipment to be taken into Gaza.
A Gaza-bound Egyptian convoy carrying humanitarian aid for the war-ravaged, besieged Palestinian enclave has been halted by the country’s security forces in Sinai.
Activists travelling with the convoy on Saturday afternoon said the vehicles carrying humanitarian supplies to the people in the Israeli-blockaded territory had been stopped at a Sinai checkpoint by Egyptian forces and not allowed to pass due to alleged “security reasons,” Ahram Online reported.
The development comes as Gaza is entering the twelfth day of an Israeli military onslaught that has left more than 312 Palestinians dead, including many women and children.
The report further cites Egyptian political activist Zizo Abdo as saying that the convoy was halted at Balooza checkpoint, the first military checkpoint in North Sinai.
Abdo also stated that the convoy consists of 11 buses and a medical convoy, totaling over 550 people including students, workers, and various political figures.
According to the report, if the convoy is allowed to pass through the checkpoint, it is set to pass through Sinai’s al-Arish city, an already troubled area where Egyptian security forces are battling an anti-state militancy that has surged since the military ouster of the country’s first freely elected president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
After al-Arish, the convoy will move directly to the Rafah border crossing.
Egypt’s authorities have largely kept the critical border crossing for the besieged Palestinians living in Gaza shut over the past year, claiming security concerns over the surge of militancy in the Sinai region.
However, the crossing has been opened a few times since the start of the massive Israeli offensive as an “exceptional” measure to transport injured Palestinians to Egyptian hospitals and deliver Egyptian as well as Arab aid to Gaza.
Similar Egyptian convoys were able to cross into Gaza during the Israeli assault on the strip in 2012.
The Israeli security cabinet reportedly agreed to a ceasefire agreement on Tuesday proposed by the Egyptian government, but leaders with the Palestinian resistance said that no one had contacted them to negotiate any ceasefire.
According to Israeli military reports, the alleged ceasefire proposal would require the Israeli military to end its aerial and naval bombardment of the Gaza Strip that has been constant for the past week, while Palestinian armed factions would be required to stop firing homemade shells into Israel.
Despite claims of having agreed to a ceasefire, Israeli bombardment continued to pound Gaza on Tuesday morning.
The armed wing of the Hamas party, the Izz-al Deen al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that the ceasefire agreement amounted to a ‘surrender’, and that no representative of Hamas or any other armed resistance group had been involved in the negotiations. Therefore, the group said, they would continue their resistance to Israeli aggression in Gaza.
The supposed agreement does not meet the four key elements reiterated by Hamas leaders in recent days. These requirements include the lifting of the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which has led to the unemployment rate of 80%, the sealing of all borders and the prevention of aid, construction materials and fuel, as well as staple goods, from entering Gaza.
Ismail Haniyeh, the elected Prime Minister of the Palestinians people who has not been recognized by Israel because of his association with the Hamas party, said on Monday, “The Gaza blockade must be lifted so that our people live in freedom like all other peoples around the world.”
Egyptian officials negotiated with Israel, apparently without involving Palestinians in the negotiation of the proposed ceasefire. Despite the lack of involvement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the Fateh party urged rival parties to accept the agreement.
Hamas officials stated over the weekend that Egypt was an unacceptable negotiator for any ceasefire negotiations, and only Turkey or Qatar could be considered as potential negotiators of a ceasefire.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has kept the Egyptian border with Gaza closed over the last week, apart from one opening to allow critically wounded patients through. This has led to widespread disapproval of Egypt as a negotiator among the Palestinian populace of Gaza, who have not had any way to escape the near-constant bombardment that began on July 8th.
In the two weeks prior to July 8th, 13 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers.
In the week since, 195 Palestinians have been killed, including three babies under age two, and several families that were totally wiped out.
2 Israeli girls were wounded on Monday night by a Palestinian shell, the first such injuries in the week of escalation. One of them, age 10, was wounded critically, according to Israeli sources.
Over the past week of escalation, at least 1,385 Palestinians have been wounded, many with head injuries, amputated limbs, permanent disabilities and embedded shrapnel. They include a four-day old infant, who was critically wounded by Israeli forces on Tuesday morning.
More than 180 Palestinians have been killed and 1,385 injured since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza exactly a week ago.
Early on Tuesday evening, as Operation Protective Edge entered its second week, Israeli air strikes and rocket continued to strike Gaza even while reports of the ceasefire began to emerge.
Hamas rockets also continued to fly toward Israel where they have largely caused minor injuries and damage. Monday evening saw the most serious incident of the week-long conflict so far with two sisters – aged 10 and 13 – being hospitalised following a rocket attack. The younger sister, 10-year-old Maram Wakili remains in critical condition.
GAZA CITY – Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Friday, having opened it for one day to allow Palestinians injured in Israel’s military assault to seek treatment.
“We received orders from the Egyptian authorities to close the Rafah crossing after we partially opened it on Thursday,” spokesman for Gaza’s interior ministry Iyad al-Buzm told Ma’an.
The ministry strongly condemned the decision by Egypt as it had prepared buses and ambulances to take wounded Palestinians to the crossing.
Only 11 Palestinians were able to cross Rafah on Thursday when Egypt opened the crossing, al-Buzm added.
Over 600 Palestinians have been injured in Israel’s assault on Gaza with hospitals in the besieged enclave struggling to cope with the amount of casualties.
During Israel’s 2012 assault on Gaza, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi condemned “Israeli aggression” and sent his prime minister to Gaza in a show of support for the Palestinians.
Since the military overthrew him in July 2013, Cairo has cracked down on smuggling tunnels to the Gaza Strip and accused Hamas of aiding the Brotherhood in militant attacks inside Egypt.
Tony Blair has reportedly agreed to advise coup-appointed Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as part of a United Arab Emirates-funded program which promises lucrative “business opportunities” to those involved.
Blair is set to give Sisi advise on economic reform in tandem with a UAE financed taskforce in Cairo, the Guardian reported on Wednesday. According to the daily, the taskforce is being run by the management consultancy Strategy&, formerly Booz and Co, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The group hopes to attract foreign direct investment to Egypt’s crisis racked economy at an upcoming Egypt donors’ conference, which is being sponsored by oil-rich UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
The former prime minister and Middle East peace envoy supported the coup against Egypt’s democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi last July and continues to generate controversy with his complicated dealings in the region.
A spokeswoman for Blair told the Guardian that his attempts to garner support for Egypt from the international community were not being done “for any personal gain whatsoever.”
“He is giving advice, he will have meetings, that’s all,” she said, stressing that neither Blair nor any organizations associated with him would make money out of Egypt.
She added that he believes the Sisi government “should be supported in its reform agenda and he will help in any way he can, but not as part of a team.”
When pressed on the lucrative “business opportunities” the Egypt project and its Gulf backers promised, she said: “We are not looking at any business opportunities in Egypt.”
A former close political associate, however, told the Guardian that Blair’s role in advising the Egyptian regime would cause “terrible damage to him, the rest of us and New Labour’s legacy.”
The associate said that Blair was able to kill two birds with one stone in Egypt, battling the threat of Islamism while sinking his teeth into “mouth-watering business opportunities” in return for Bush-era advocacy.
He added that it would be a very lucrative business model, but one Blair should not be involving himself with.
“He’s putting himself in hock to a regime that imprisons journalists. He’s digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself and everyone associated with him.”
Alastair Campbell, Blair’s former press secretary who resigned in 2003 over the Iraq Dossier scandal, is also a paid advisor consulting the Sisi government on its public image. When asked by the Guardian on Wednesday if he had been working with Strategy&, Campbell refused to say who he had been working with. Like Blair, Campbell also visited Cairo earlier this year as part of the Gulf-funded program to prop up the regime. Another former Blair employee, Darren Murphy, a so-called special advisor in the Blair government who has traded off the former PM’s name for years, has also been working on the program.
In June, Sisi, Egypt’s former army, won 96.9 percent of the votes in a presidential poll that had all the hallmarks of a dictatorial election.
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was the first international leader to congratulate Sisi on his election victory.
King Abdullah hailed Sisi’s ’win as a “historic day” for Egypt, calling for donors a donors conference to help Egypt through its economic troubles.
“To the brothers and friends of Egypt… I invite all to a donors conference… to help it overcome its economic crisis,” he said.
Since the Morsi government was toppled, hundreds of alleged supports of the ex-president and his Muslim Brotherhood movement have been sentenced to death. The persecution of political opponents and crackdown on journalists has pushed US congressional leaders to consider withholding $1.3 billion in military support to Cairo.
Since stepping down as prime minister in 2007, Blair and his companies have worked with a variety of repressive and dictatorial regimes across the world. Blair’s Middle East interest appear to be expanding, with aids confirming last month he was considering opening an office in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi. His work in Egypt could be viewed as even more contentious, due to the bloody nature of the coup and his work as a mediator in the region.
In June, retired diplomats and political enemies came together to demand that Blair be fired as the envoy to the Quartet on the Middle East– the UN, US, Russia and EU – after failing to bring Israel and Palestine closer to a peace deal.