Gaza City – I’m still alive. I don’t know what this means, but I can say that most of the time I can still walk and do some work with people who need help. It all depends on my luck. And here, for people living in Gaza, luck means how close to you the bombs fall from Israel’s tanks, planes, or warships. Some hours it’s raining bombs. Americans say “It’s raining cats and dogs”. In the new Gaza idiom, we say “It’s raining bombs and shells.”
Today I started my day in the Red Crescent Society’s medical center. The electricity has stopped, but the X-ray still functions, so we received many patients. Let me share with you some of what I saw.
First is the story of an unnamed child we called “Number 6”. He was around three years and had identifying stickers on his arms saying “Unknown” and “Number 6”. I was shocked and immediately asked the nurses and ambulance drivers what his name was. I was told no one knew his name. They found him in a mass of destroyed houses and he was the only survivor of his family. He had a head injury and wounds on other parts of his body. Immediately I asked “Doesn’t anyone remember where the house was?” They said in the area where they found him, all the buildings were destroyed and mixed up with each other and sometimes the children are thrown from one area to another. So they didn’t know where he had lived.
And then I realized he’s Number 6, and that means there were five other unknown children before him and many more children after him. I stopped asking questions because I needed to do my work.
Second is the story of Reem Ahmad, six years old. Reem arrived in the X-ray unit also. She has a name and she used to have a family. She is the only survivor of her family. She lost her parents and brothers and sisters. She is injured in the head.
Third is the story of a fifty-two year old woman who arrived at our clinic with her son. He is a nurse and he was panicked. She had gone outside to her garden to take care of her plants. Some shrapnel hit her head and her son was crying like crazy and he said in very few words “We are a simple family staying in our home. This shrapnel flew all around the garden and hit my mom. I want my mom to live.” This woman is named Buthaina el-Izraia.
Fourth is the story of my colleague Afaf Jabar, a nurse on our team. Afaf lost her daughter Leena, who was also a nurse, her two grandchildren and her daughter’s husband when one bomb fell on their house in Bureij refugee camp.
We have gone through a lot in Gaza. But this is a new war. Israel is committing new massacres every day and sometimes more than one massacre in a day. In the Red Crescent clinic we receive at least 200 patients a day. And we are not an emergency clinic. A lot of disease is coming up in Gaza because of destruction of the water systems, the electrical system and ongoing stress and fear from over three weeks of bombings. People are experiencing different illnesses: gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, breathing and skin problems, and most of them are the most vulnerable of all, children. We have a real crisis now. We managed to get some medicine before from MECA, but right now we facing a lack of medicine. I want people to know this and contribute and support us and help us get the proper medicines and supplies so we can treat these people who are suffering.
This is what I can tell you about today and with luck, I will report more information to you tomorrow.
Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza Projects, is a physician by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist by practice in the occupied Gaza Strip. She was born in Khan Younis, Gaza and has dedicated herself to developing community based programs that aim to improve health quality and link health services with cultural and recreation services all over the Gaza Strip. Dr. El-Farra is also the Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip and a member of the Union of Health Work Committees. Dr. El-Farra has a son and two daughters.
Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, Israel has killed seven Palestinian journalists and media workers.
According to Pls48.net news website, Palestinian medical sources announced on Wednesday afternoon the death of photojournalist Rami Rayan, who was killed while working in the Souq Al-Bastat, east of Gaza City, when Israeli forces committed a massacre against civilians. Earlier in the day, journalist Ahed Zaqqout, who worked in sports journalism for several agencies, was announced dead.
Israel’s assault on Gaza also led to the killing of photojournalist Khaled Hamad, as well as journalists Najla Mahmoud Haj, Abdul Rahman Ziad Abu Hin, Ezzat Duheir and Bahauddin Ghareeb.
The Palestinian Journalist Bloc issued a statement condemning Israel’s premeditated targeting of journalists and media workers, saying the Israeli army had crossed all red lines by targeting reporters and shattering international laws and norms.
The bloc demanded that the international community and the United Nations uphold their responsibilities regarding the Israeli targeting of journalists and media workers and depart from their shameful silence.
The bloc also criticised local, Arab and international press agencies, particularly the Arab Journalists Union and Reporters Without Borders, as well as all the institutions that deal with journalists and media workers’ rights, for their current silence towards the killing of Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip.
The statement stressed that Israel’s crimes against the media workers reflect its daily crimes against the Palestinian people, and demanded for the international community to curb the Israeli aggression and to stop supplying it with arms that are used to kill civilians.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay lashed out at the Zionist entity on Thursday, over its attacks in Gaza, saying that such attacks are considered as Israel’s “deliberate defiance” of international law.
Pillay slammed the country’s attacks on homes, schools, hospitals and United Nations facilities which are sheltering 250,000 civilians in Gaza.
“There appears to be deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel,” the South African told reporters.
Pillay said that repeated calls to respect the laws of war had gone unheeded during the latest crisis and previous spikes in the Israeli offensive.
“The same pattern of attacks is occurring now on homes, schools, hospitals, UN premises. None of this appears to me to be accidental,” she said.
She spoke a day after Israeli shells slammed into a UN school in Jabalia refugee camp which was sheltering some 3,300 homeless Gazans, killing at least 16 people.
Pillay said that under international law, civilian facilities should not be attacked, noting that due warning must be given before an attack, in order to allow civilians to be evacuated.
“It is completely unconscionable that the proportionality and precaution that international law requires is being ignored,” said Pillay.
She also criticized Israel’s strikes on Gaza’s power plant, as well as water and sewerage systems.
Last week, the UN Human Rights Council voted to open an inquiry into the Gaza offensive, despite fierce opposition from the Zionist entity and its international sponsor, the United States.
“We cannot allow impunity. We cannot allow this lack of accountability to go on,” Pillay said on Thursday, calling into question domestic investigations by Israel into abuses.
“I join the world in condemning the aggression that is taking place in Gaza, and particularly the killing of civilians. This is wrong and it will always be wrong,” she added.
Another day, another UN school hit by Israeli shelling in Gaza. Israel’s attack this morning killed at least 16 civilians sheltering at the school and wounded dozens. The casualties figures are expected to rise.
Israel and even most of its critics tell us that the civilian casualties are accidental, caused by Israel’s need to wage its war against Hamas in heavily built-up areas of Gaza. Israel is accused of “disproportionality”, or of recklessness, or of inflicting unfortunate collateral damage.
But here’s another possibility: that the people of Gaza, not just Hamas, are the target. That Israel’s generals don’t see much difference between the two.
Israel’s army is “degrading” – or “mowing the lawn”, in even worse military parlance – Gaza’s ability to resist. Not Hamas’ abilities, but Gaza’s. Because the problem lies not with Hamas. Hamas is simply a symptom, of the people of Gaza’s determination to liberate themselves from Israel’s siege.
That is why the power plant was destroyed yesterday. That is why Israel has been starving Gaza for years through its siege, limiting the entry of basic foods and counting the minimum calories people need for bare survival – putting them on a diet, as one senior adviser jokingly termed it. That is why Gaza’s infrastructure is being trashed – the notorious Dahiya doctrine, devised by Israeli generals in 2006 as way to force hostile populations back into the Stone Age, keeping them preoccupied with the essentials of life rather than demanding, or fighting, for their rights.
Israel knows it cannot destroy Hamas’ will to resist without destroying Gaza’s will to resist too. And that is what it looks like we are seeing played out here day-in, day-out. Civilians, it seems, must die to teach Gaza a lesson: you will submit.
BETHLEHEM – Despite a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire that began at 3:00 p.m., Israeli forces on Wednesday afternoon shelled a market in Shujaiyya as well as number of homes across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 33.
Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said around 6 p.m. that an Israeli airstrike had hit Shujaiyya market, killing at least 17, including a journalist, and injuring 200, including many seriously.
A Ma’an reporter on the scene said that Israeli artillery had fired several shells at civilians in the market, adding that ambulances and civilian vehicles were still transporting the wounded and the killed to al-Shifa Hospital.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza said that the dead include a journalist and two paramedics, as well as a member of the civil defense crews.
Sources named the journalist as Rami Ryan, a photographer for the Palestinian Network for Journalism and Media.
Bodies were still being pulled from the rubble, with medics estimating that dozens had been killed and injured.
That attack brought the toll since the ceasefire to at least 29, with 12 killed earlier including Muhammad Wissam Dardona, Hussam al-Najjas, Hussam Muhammad al-Najjar, Shaaban Abdulaziz al-Jamal and Alaa Judi Khader.
Four were killed in shelling on a home in al-Qarara in Khan Younis.
Strikes were reported in Juhr al-Dik, al-Bureij, Deir al-Balah, and many other districts across Gaza.
One airstrike hit the al-Basha building in Gaza, which houses a number of press offices.
The Israeli military said, meanwhile, that during the unilaterally-declared ceasefire Hamas had fired 26 rockets into Israel. No damage or injuries were reported.
The violations of the ceasefire brought the day’s total Palestinian deaths to 103, as the total Palestinian death toll in the 23-day offensive hit 1,325 with more than 7,000 injured.
Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the Palestinian Territories, said earlier that Israeli forces would stop attacks for four hours starting at 3 p.m.
Mordechai said Israeli forces would only target areas where rockets were being fired at Israel.
An Israeli army statement added that the “humanitarian window will not apply to the areas in which (army) soldiers are currently operating.”
“Residents must not return to areas that have previously been asked to evacuate,” the statement said, adding the the army would respond to all fire from Palestinian militants throughout the limited ceasefire.
It was not immediately clear whether Palestinian factions would respect the limited, brief truce.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Israel imposed the ceasefire only for “media consumption.”
Abu Zohri said the truce was “worthless” given that it excluded parts of the Gaza Strip where Israeli forces were operating.
Earlier in the day, Israeli forces killed over 70 Palestinians, bringing the total number of Gazans killed since the beginning of the offensive up past 1,300.
The deadliest Israeli attack on Wednesday was a shelling on a UN-designated shelter in Jabaliya refugee camp which left at least 16 dead.
Chris Gunness, the spokesman for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, condemned the attack in a statement made on Twitter.
“UNRWA condemns in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces,” Gunness said.
“Precise location of Jabalia Elementary Girls School #Gaza & that it housed 3,000 displaced was communicated to Israeli army 17 times,” he said in another tweet.
Since July 25th, international volunteers, including activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and other groups have begun a constant protective presence in various locations at the al-Shifa Hospital. Below is a journal extract from an ISM volunteer during his shift at the hospital on July 28th.
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – There had been shelling during my shift in al-Shifa. My shift began at 7PM, and in the distance I registered the sounds as everybody else does here in Gaza, I heard the drones without trying to see them. I left Joe [another ISM activist] alone in the hospital; I went in a car for an interview and came back again. The shelling from the sea grew closer. But I couldn’t stay awake for 24 hours just to listen to the noise, nobody can, and I tried to sleep for a few hours.
Then the thunder started, and the black sky turned bright orange, the hospital shook a little, and some windows shattered. I send a short text to the media coordinator for the Ship to Gaza-Sweden saying that this is following me, thinking about el-Wafa hospital, Beit Hanoun hospital, and now al-Shifa. But we weren’t hit. Not this time.
The morning came, we were released by the next shift, and I passed some of the nights targets on my way home. I took a few photos and carried on. There’s so much destruction now that I hesitate to take any more pictures of it. In some areas it is now rare to see an undestroyed building. But of course they claim all of this is to create silence and ‘security’ for Israel, seeing the destruction left behind, I don’t think so.
Photos by Charlie Andreasson
GAZA CITY – The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Wednesday condemned an Israeli attack on one of its schools used to house thousands of internally displaced Gazans earlier the same day.
“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza,” UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said in a statement.
“Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts,” the statement said.
“The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times … to ensure its protection.”
The statement went on to say that the incident was the sixth time an UNRWA shelter had been struck during Israel’s offensive on Gaza.
“UNRWA condemns in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces,” spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted.
Gaza’s health ministry said earlier that at least 16 people were killed in an Israeli shelling on a UN school in Jabaliya camp. The ministry called on UNRWA to immediately condemn the attack.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an later that initial reports suggested Palestinian militants had fired mortar shells at Israeli soldiers from the vicinity of the school.
The Israeli army responded by firing back at the “origins of fire,” the spokeswoman said.
“The incident is still being reviewed,” she added.
Over 70 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far on the 23rd day of the Israeli offensive, bringing the three-week total above 1,300.
More than 200,000 people, or about one in eight Gazans, have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the assault.
Updated at 2:41 pm: Israeli bombardments early on Wednesday killed more than 68 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 20 at a UN school, medics said, on day 23 of the Israeli assault on the besieged enclave.
The deaths brought the Palestinian toll to more than 1,297, according to Gaza’s emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra’s latest figures. Qudra added that 180 Palestinians were injured on Wednesday, raising the total number of wounded to 7,200.
A shelling shortly after 5:30 am killed some 20 people at the UN school being used as a shelter for those displaced by the war, Qudra said.
An AFP correspondent said that at least one shell had hit the school – the outer wall of the complex was damaged by shellfire. The correspondent said the army had been pounding the area with tank fire for an hour prior to the incident.
Blood splattered floors and mattresses inside classrooms, and some survivors picked through shattered glass and debris for flesh and body parts to bury.
At the edge of the schoolyard, some 20 donkeys lay dead, still tied to a railing.
Displaced Palestinians who had already had to leave their homes quickly gathered belongings and fled the building.
Khalil al-Halabi, director of UNRWA’s northern Gaza operations, said some 3,000 Palestinians were taking refuge in the school, in Jabalia refugee camp, when it came under fire around dawn.
“There were five shells – Israeli tank shells – which struck the people and killed many of them as they slept. Those people came to the school because it is a designated UN shelter,” he said.
Five of the wounded were in critical condition, Halabi said. It was the second time in a week that a UN school sheltering hundreds of homeless Palestinians had been hit.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces,” said UNRWA commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl, saying the school’s location had been communicated to the Israeli army 17 times.
“This is the sixth time that one of our schools has been struck,” he said, indicating some 3,300 people had been sheltering in the school when it was hit.
Abdel-Karim al-Masamha, 27, said he and his family had come to the school after fleeing fighting near their home in the northern Gaza Strip.
“We did not find safety here,” he said. “People were martyred before our eyes. They were dismembered.”
A shelling earlier in the northern Gaza Strip killed an 11-year-old handicapped girl, Qudra said, with a subsequent shelling in the center of the small coastal territory killing a 16-year-old girl.
Five members of the same family in Jabalia were killed in a strike, Gaza officials said.
A strike shortly afterwards in the southern city of Khan Younis killed 10 members of a single family, Qudra said, including one child who could not immediately be identified.
According to Qudra, the victims were all from the Abu Amer family.
A middle-aged man was killed early in the morning in the southern city of Rafah.
Three children were among six people killed in an Israeli tank shelling on Gaza City on Wednesday, medics said.
The attack took place in Tuffah neighborhood in the northeastern part of the city, killing six members of the Al-Khalili family, Qudra said.
Rights groups have expressed alarm at the number of children victims.
The more than 240 Palestinian children who have died represent at least 29 percent of civilian casualties, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said in a statement, adding that another six children in Israel had been wounded from Gaza rocket fire.
“We see children killed, injured, mutilated and burnt, in addition to being terrified to their core. The consequences run much deeper than previous flare-ups” in Gaza, UNICEF’s Gaza field office chief Pernille Ironside said.
UNRWA, the main UN relief agency in Gaza, said it was at “breaking point” with an estimated 240,000 Palestinians having taken shelter in 85 of its schools and buildings following calls by Israel for civilians to evacuate whole neighborhoods before military operations.
On the Israeli side, militant fire, including cross-border rocket fire, has killed 53 Israeli soldiers in addition to two Israeli civilians and a Thai laborer. … Full article
Chile, El Salvador and Peru have announced they are recalling their ambassadors in Tel Aviv in consultation to protest the Israeli assault on the besieged strip of Gaza.
The moves come on the heels of Brazil and Ecuador, who announced last week that they were recalling their envoys.
“Given the escalation of Israeli military operations in Gaza, the Government of Chile, in coordination with others in our region, has decided to call in consultation Santiago Ambassador of Chile in Tel Aviv, Jorge Montero,” the Chilean foreign ministry in Santiago said in a statement.
“Chile notes with great concern and dismay that such military operations, which at this stage of development are subject to a collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza do not respect fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.”
The Chilean foreign ministry emphasized the more than 1,000 Palestinians killed, including women and children during Operation Protective Edge, which continued for a 22nd day on Tuesday. The statement also noted Israel’s attacks “on schools and hospitals.”
“The scale and intensity of Israeli operations in Gaza violate the principle of proportionality in the use of force, an essential requirement to justify self-defense,” the statement added, referring to rocket fire by the resistance movements in the coastal territory.
El Salvador Ambassador in the Zionist entity Susana Edith Gun was also recalled for “urgent consultations” on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry of the Central American country said that El Salvador President Sanchez Ceren gave these instructions “over serious escalation of violence and Israel’s bombings in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.”
A similar statement was also published by the Peruvian Foreign Ministry, condemning Israel’s operation in Gaza.
Venezuela and Bolivia that cut their ties with Tel Aviv over Israel’s 2009 war on Gaza have also strongly condemned Israel’s actions.
Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela were among the 29 countries that voted in favor of a probe by the UN Human Rights Council into Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.
Paul Estrin is the President of the Green Party of Canada. He recently shared his thoughts on the current fighting in Israel and Gaza.
I thought his comments were worth going over in some detail, if only because they’re so incongruous with what I believe to be some fundamental ‘Green’ principles: namely equality, social justice, human rights and self-determination.
So without further ado . . .
On the Israeli ‘withdrawal’ from Gaza in 2005, Estrin writes:
‘Israel decided to leave, fighting its own citizens, showing once more that it sticks to its word about the settlements not being permanent, but instead something to be removed painfully if peace is achievable to be had’.
But Alvaro De Soto, who was the U.N.’s Peace Envoy to the Middle East at the time, gives quite a different version of events.
In a leaked U.N. report from 2007, he writes that:
‘I don’t think the disengagement marked in any way a conversion by Sharon to the idea of an independent and viable Palestinian state – on the contrary, it was basically a spectacular move that killed and put into ‘formaldehyde’ the Road Map, to quote his key advisor. Sharon used the disengagement to gain vital concessions from the U.S. – including the Bush letter of assurances on retention of settlement blocs and non-return of Palestinian refugees to Israel – while proceeding with the construction of the barrier and the implementation of more settlers in the West Bank’.
The number of settlers living in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has increased by over 100’000 since 2005, giving credence to De Soto’s analysis.
The De Soto report also disputes that the Israeli occupation of Gaza ever ended, saying that:
‘Since, as I recall, the test of occupation in international law is effective control of the population, few international lawyers contest the assessment that Gaza remains occupied, with it’s connections to the outside world by land, sea and air in the hands of Israel’.
On how Hamas came to be the dominant political force in Gaza, Estrin writes:
‘And then Hamas took power. It has nearly been ten years. Since August 2005, Gazans have been in control of their own destiny’.
It might be worth mentioning here that Hamas actually won parliamentary elections in 2006.
The usual narrative is then to say that Hamas went on to wrest complete control of Gaza in a coup in 2007, driving Fatah out in the process. But that isn’t the full story.
Another facet to the story is that elements in Fatah, working alongside Israel and a George Bush/Condoleezza Rice/Elliot Abrams axis in the U.S., had themselves planned a coup to overthrow Hamas – the democratically elected government of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, remember – and Hamas had simply got wind and pre-empted it.
This is according a lengthy Vanity Fair article based on leaked documents and the testimony of some of those involved.
Either way, to say that Hamas simply ‘took power’ is to remove some important context (and the claim that ‘Gazans have been in control of their own destiny’ since 2005 is just downright false, for reasons already mentioned).
On the state of the economy in Gaza, Estrin writes:
‘instead of showing openness to the world, or managing, or caring . . . Gaza has instead shown that it is not interested in peace, in building a stable economy, in a secure future’.
Notice here that he’s stopped referring to ‘Hamas’, and is openly referring to Gaza as a whole. And Gaza as a whole is not ‘interested in peace, in building a stable economy, in a secure future’, apparently. Is he implying a kind of collective guilt?
But it is no secret that, since 2007, Israel has been deliberately trying to strangle the Gazan economy, as a means of inflicting collective punishment on the population of Gaza. That’s what the so-called blockade is expressly designed to do.
As the International Committee of the Red Cross put it in 2010:
‘The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is about to enter its fourth year, choking off any real possibility of economic development . . . The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law’.
Estrin is quite simply engaged in victim blaming here. Lambasting Gazans for not building their economy, while Israel has been deliberately implementing policies to prevent them doing so.
And I just wonder how the U.S., U.K. and Canada would manage their economies if a near total ban on imports and exports was placed on them, and their means of production were destroyed via aerial bombardment every couple of years.
On the Hamas charter, Estrin writes:
‘In Canada and elsewhere, national charters protect the people. In Gaza, the first article calls for the death of Israel and the Jew. (Let me quote just a bit: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”‘.
Personally, I’m more perturbed by the fact that whole areas of Gaza are being obliterated right now, than I am about what a Charter written in 1988 says.
And there are in fact real questions over just how relevant to Hamas’ political program the 1988 charter is anymore.
In January 2009, Jeremy Greenstock – who is a former U.K. ambassador to the U.N., and who has negotiated with Hamas leaders as part of his work with the Ditchley Foundation – told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that Hamas:
‘ . . . are not intent on the destruction of Israel. That is a rhetorical statement of resistance . . . The charter was drawn up by a Hamas linked Imam some years ago, and has never been adopted, since Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government in January 2006, as part of their political program. This is a grievance based organisation desperate to end the occupation’.
Greenstock is Establishment to the bone, and yet even he recognises that the focus on Hamas’ charter is a red herring while Israel continues to build settlements in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, thus making a just two-state solution a virtual impossibility.
On Gaza Vs Syria, Estrin writes:
‘It looks very bad for Israel. 800+ Gazans dead. 1000s injured. Lots of destruction. Meanwhile, in Syria, how many hundreds of thousands of people, including so many Palestinians, are dead or injured … where are the inflammatory protests …’.
This is basically a claim that Israel is being unfairly singled out as compared to Syria.
First and foremost, it’s worth pointing out that the regime in Israel is heavily supported by the governments of the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. That support takes the form of military sales, economic aid, general praise and diplomatic protection (e.g. the U.S. using its veto to thwart attempts by the U.N.S.C. to hold Israel accountable for its serial war crimes).
I suspect that protests against Israel in the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada are as much designed to get the respective governments in those countries to stop facilitating Israeli crimes as they are designed to express outrage at Israel itself.
Such support for the Assad regime, however, hasn’t been forthcoming from said same governments, and so there have been no protests designed to stop it.
You could argue that there should still have been more protests against the Assad regime regardless, but that doesn’t change this basic context.
And indeed, in other important ways, Israel is actually being given highly preferential treatment as compared to Syria. There is no talk of formally sanctioning Israel, for example. No talk of ‘no-fly zones’ or ‘humanitarian intervention’, and no talk of equipping Palestinian rebels with high-tech weaponry so they can better defend themselves and their people.
Compare that to Syria now or Libya in February 2011, when some or all of those things were put on the agenda pretty much straight away, and were then carried out to a greater or lesser degree (for reasons that had nothing to do with humanitarianism or human rights, obviously).
Israel is literally getting away with mass murder scot free, for the third time in five years, and so the idea of Israel being singled out is simply untenable.
On the people who have attended protests against Israeli state violence over the last couple of weeks, Estrin writes:
‘if it is anti-Israel it is an easy band-wagon to get on, to get their anti-Israel war-paint on and join their friends between potlucks, veggie smoothies and coffee breaks’.
Seriously, why didn’t he just call them Long Haired Hippy Freaks and have done with it?
On Israel’s military tactics, Estrin writes:
‘Military experts look at Israel’s military strategy: No carpet bombing, no quick actions, but instead pinpoint strikes whilst warning the enemy in advance of what their plans are, and slow movements . . . What other military calls up the enemy on their phone to tell them that their building will be bombed, to kindly leave, yes, you have enough time to leave, just thought it would be the neighbourly thing to do … anyone else in war, and that is what Hamas is calling this time in Gaza, would simply bomb, kill and destroy’.
Once again, research carried out by mainstream human rights organisations belies this claim that the IDF is a profoundly moral army that tries its hardest to avoid inflicting civilian casualties.
On July 16th, Human Rights Watch published a short report documenting how:
‘Israeli air attacks . . . have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war . . . Recent documented cases in Gaza sadly fit Israel’s long record of unlawful airstrikes with high civilian casualties’.
On July 21st, Amnesty International published a short report documenting how:
‘Israel’s continuing bombardment of civilian homes in several areas of the Gaza Strip, as well as the shelling of a hospital, add to the list of possible war crimes that demand an urgent independent international investigation’.
Also on July 21st, Medicins Sans Frontieres published a short report documenting how:
‘Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, the majority of the dead and wounded in Gaza are civilians and medical workers are also coming under fire’.
Circa 1,000 Palestinian civilians now lie dead, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and over 100’00 civilians have been displaced. ‘Hell of a pin-point operation’, as John Kerry said.
I am absolutely certain that when international investigators get into Gaza and research these attacks in more detail, they will conclude that Israel has indeed been wilfully targeting civilian infrastructure, and systemically as well, to the extent that both war crimes and Crimes against Humanity have been committed by them.
On ‘Gaza’s’ respect for human life, Estrin writes:
‘And that is it in a nutshell: Whilst Israel does all that is in its power to protect the lives of all its citizens and the lives of those it is attacking, Gaza does all in its power to have all the more die’.
Once again, Estrin is engaged in shameless victim blaming here, and once again he is referring to ‘Gaza’ as a whole. They are trying to get themselves killed in large numbers, see, to make Israel look bad.
But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, as on previous occasions, the claim that Hamas uses Palestinians as ‘human shields’ turns out to be without foundation – Israeli propaganda, in other words.
For example, the BBC’s senior middle east correspondent, Jeremy Bowen, recently wrote in an article for the New Statesman :
‘I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields’.
And as they are doing now, Israeli spokespeople also continually accused Hamas of using ‘human shields’ during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009, but the Goldstone Report found:
‘ . . . no evidence . . . to suggest that Palestinian armed groups either directed civilians to areas where attacks were being launched or that they forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks’.
They did, however, uncover:
‘ . . . four incidents in which the Israeli armed forces coerced Palestinian civilian men at gunpoint to take part in house searches during the military operations . . . The Mission concludes that this practice amounts to the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and is therefore prohibited by international humanitarian law’.
So if anything, it is the IDF, and not Hamas, who have form for using Palestinians as ‘human shields’ in this kind of operation.
Only in the bizarro world inhabited by apologists for Israeli state violence is Gaza free from occupation, and Israel keen on ending the settlement enterprise in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Only in the bizarro world inhabited by apologists for Israeli state violence are Gazans responsible for the ruination of their own economy, and desperate to get themselves killed.
And only in the bizarro world inhabited by apologists for Israeli state violence does the IDF make strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties.
In the real world inhabited by the rest of us, the complete opposite is true, and demonstrably so.
Estrin has apparently chosen to firmly ensconce himself in that bizarro world, and its to the detriment of the Green Party of Canada.
The Israeli army continued its illegitimate bombardment of Palestinian homes, and civilian property, and killed five family members of a Palestinian journalist, including two children in Gaza City.
Media sources said the Israeli strikes also targeted government facilities and ministries, media outlets, mosques and even homes of senior political leaders of Hamas, including the deputy head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismael Haniyya.
Medical sources said resident Ezzat Dheir, a 23-year-old journalist, working for a local radio, was killed along with four members of his family, after an Israeli missile striking his home.
The slain Palestinians have been identified as:
1. Ezzat Dheir, 23, Rafah.
2. Turkeyya Dheir, 80, Rafah.
3. Yasmeen Dheir, 25, Rafah.
4. Mary Dheir, 12, Rafah.
5. Tasneem Dheir, 8, Rafah.
The al-Hurriyya (Freedom) Radio issued a statement denouncing the ongoing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, including journalists and medics, adding that Dheir was its correspondent in Gaza.
Also on Tuesday, head of the al-Borei Local council, Anis Abu Shammala, was killed after an israeli missile was fired into his home.
On Monday, ten children were killed, and more than 30 were injured, when the army fires missiles into a playground north of the Shaty’ refugee camp, west of Gaza City.
The army also fired missiles into clinics of the Shifa Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in the Gaza Strip, wounding at least five Palestinians.
Another Palestinian was killed, and three were injured, after the army fired a missile into his home in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Three Palestinians, including two brothers, have also been killed by an Israeli missile striking a home, belonging to al-Hashshash family, in Rafah.
Gaza’s main power plant was hit by Israeli tank shells on Tuesday, shutting it down completely. The power plant had already been operating at 20% capacity, after having been hit by Israeli airstrikes last week. Most Palestinians depend on the central Gaza power plant to provide electricity.
This will also severely impact the ability of Palestinians to communicate to the outside world via the Internet — which has been the main source of information getting out of Gaza up until this point. Gaza’s main power plant was also heavily bombarded during the Israeli invasion of 2009, which had a serious impact on hospitals’ ability to provide care.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) says it is ready to set up a fully equipped makeshift hospital in the Gaza Strip amid deadly Israeli attacks on the impoverished coastal enclave.
Seyyed Reza Raeis Karami, the IRCS under-secretary general for health, treatment and rehabilitation, said the humanitarian body is ready to dispatch a medical team to Gaza and build a field hospital there to treat those wounded in Israeli attacks.
The hospital could be built up in a six-month period, while a group of 23 Iranian surgeons will also operate in the medical center to treat the injured Gazans, according to the IRCS official.
Karami added that the IRCS will be prepared to send necessary equipment and human resources to set up the hospital after gaining permission and making assessments of the situation in the Palestinian land.
The first consignment of relief aid provided by the IRCS for Gazans has been flown into the Egyptian capital of Cairo and is waiting to be cleared for transfer into the coastal enclave via the Rafah border crossing.
On July 21, Iran’s Health Minister Seyyed Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi said the country’s hospitals were fully prepared to admit the injured Palestinians, saying the Islamic Republic is ready to supply the wounded with necessary medicine.
Latest reports say Israeli aerial and ground assaults have killed more than 1,100 Gazans and injured over 6,500 others since July 8.
Hospitals in Gaza are in desperate need of medicine and equipment. Over the past days, Israeli warplanes and tanks have pounded several hospitals across the besieged region.
Earlier this month, the Israeli military targeted the hospitals in Deir al-Balah and Beit Hanoun, killing a number of Palestinian civilians and wounding several others.