The National Strike of 24th-25th August was celebrated as a great success by the President of the Chilean Workers United Central (CUT) trade union federation, Arturo Martinez. In a statement Mr Martinez said “we salute the hundreds of thousands of Chileans who have mobilized across the country to show their will and their hope to build a new, different Chile.” The National Strike was called to push for deep changes to Chile’s Constitution which would allow reforms to education, healthcare, labor laws and the economy.
The strike affected over 90 towns and cities the length of the country, with demonstrations, road blockades, human chains, concerts and cultural activities, public meetings and the famous ‘cacerolazos’ – the banging of pots and pans to show discontent which were a feature of the struggle against Pinochet.
As in those dark years, the Chilean government has met social mobilization with brutality and slander. The Minister of Interior has threatened to re-introduce martial law, and the government and its supporters have abused the leaders of the demonstrations, repeatedly calling the demonstrators subversives and accusing them of fomenting disorder. Some government supporters have been even less measured, showing how near to the surface the Pinochet legacy of the Chilean right is. One functionary tweeted that Camila Vallejo, the leader of the students’ union ought to be killed, the Intendant of the 8th Region (a member of Opus Dei) even ridiculously declared that the demonstrations were the result of too many children being born out of wedlock.
During the strike police resorted to the old tactics of repression. In Macul, Santiago, a 16 year-old boy, Manuel Gutierrez was shot in the chest. With two friends he had gone out to observe the bonfires and barricades built in his neighborhood. A police truck drove by, the window opened, three shots were heard and Manuel fell to the ground crying “I’m hit!” He later died in hospital from the wound to his chest. His family has called for justice but the Carabineros are denying any participation and hence refusing an investigation. Human rights groups have condemned this move to cover up the crime. In another area of the city police tear-gassed a postal workers union branch office full of local people, forcing them to flee and putting one elderly lady in hospital.
In another case, Cristian Andrade Cardenas, a student in the port city of Valparaiso, was brutally tortured by police. Seized off the street by a squad of 10 Carabineros, he was forced into a police bus where the police began to beat him severely, jumping on his face, arms and torso, beating him with batons and punching him repeatedly. They then squeezed lemon juice into the open cuts on his face before forcing him to inhale tear gas. They also threatened to rape his mother. He was released after being forced to sign a false declaration stating that he had assaulted a police officer. At the same time, demonstrators in the city discovered suspected a police infiltrator amongst them when he began throwing stones at police. When the crowd tried to detain him, the man fled and took refuge with police guarding the Chilean Congress. The incident was filmed and the opposition are asking the police to help identify the man.
In the same city another student was threatened by police simply for carrying the flag of the Chilean Communist Party, which has once more, as in the years of the dictatorship, borne the brunt of the ire and desperation of an establishment that has lost control. In parliament, right wing deputies Cristián Monckeberg and Víctor Pérez, accused the Communist Party of inciting public disorder, an accusation that could see the Party’s deputies barred under a law dating back to the Pinochet era. Meanwhile, in Santiago police special forces raided the house of a Communist Mayor in the neighborhood of Pedro Aguirre Cerda at 1.30am. According to Mayor Claudina Nuñez, her door was broken down, her nephew was beaten, and when neighbors came out to protest they were also attacked, including a 78 year-old woman who was beaten to the ground and knocked unconscious. The incident was filmed.
These abuses are reminders that the legacy of the dictatorship were never properly dealt with by the governments of the Concertacion. This Christian Democrat and Socialist Party coalition accepted Pinochet’s 1980 Constitution (the rejection of which had until the late 1980s been a central demand of the opposition) in return for a severely limited democracy. This, among other features, included impunity for human rights abuses committed under the dictatorship. Indeed there are 800 cases open against agents of the dictatorship, but so far only 71 have resulted in a sentence, meaning that most of the crimes of that period still go unpunished.
This was the message of human rights groups when recently greeting the results of the second Valech Report which cataloged thousands of new cases of abuses, accepting 9,800 of them, including 30 new cases of people disappeared or executed. Lorena Pizarro, the President of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared said that the measure recognizes “victims but not perpetrators” and that despite the compensation provided by the state, justice would be the only true compensation for the victims. One wonders how many more victims might come forward if the country’s institutions were not so heavily permeated by the dictatorship’s noxious legacy.
The recent demonstrations have shown how the legacy of the Pinochet era remains especially strongly entrenched in the police and the armed forces. Following the return to a very limited democracy in 1990, there was no purge of Pinochet supporters, or of those who had committed human rights abuses from either of these institutions. The officers now at the top of both were trained and forged in the years of the dictatorship, and their attitudes towards social protest conditioned in a period when violence was routinely applied against the defenseless population. Despite measures taken to reform training programs under the Concertacion governments, unfortunately the police remain an instrument of repression, conditioned to see demonstrators as subversives rather than citizens exercising their right to protest. This view is clearly shared by the current government, much as it tries to hide its connections to the past.
The Piñera government currently has a 21% approval rating, and has been severely criticized for its failure to look after the victims of the 2010 earthquake which has plunged at least half a million Chileans into poverty and homelessness. It has also failed to consider long-standing concerns such as the list of points presented to the government by the CUT in June 2010. This intransigent position and the ever more obvious injustices of Chilean society, have exacerbated the social tensions caused by the government’s continual rejection of negotiations with the social movements. This opposition has now galvanized around the reform of the country’s severely restrictive Constitution, a position that has terrified the current government, which is scrabbling around for a response. The government initially cataloged the strike as a complete failure, and yet has now agreed to meet with representatives of the protest movement in order to negotiate. However, whilst welcoming this change in position, the opposition understandably remains skeptical as to the government’s good faith.
It is hard to see how the ‘Chilean model’ can survive the present situation. The governing coalition includes the UDI, the party of Pinochetismo, and an ardent defender of the socio-economic legacy of the dictatorship. Even the more moderate elements of the government are aware that their economic position is completely dependent on the maintenance of an exporting economy with weak labor organization. This economic model is only sustainable under a limited democracy. This limits the government’s scope for flexibility in dealing with an opposition united around the desire for profound changes to the legal and institutional framework that underpins this economic model.
Worryingly for the government and for supporters of Pinochet’s model, even the more centrist parties historically linked to the Concertacion are now beginning to jump ship, opening talks with the leaders of the opposition. This shows just how far the opposition have advanced in creating a common perception that the entire social, economic and constitutional structure must be reformed in order to create a new Chile governed by democracy and social justice.
In spite of US government statements about its displeasure with the expansion of Israeli settlements, US based organizations are abusing the 501(C)3 section of US tax codes to provide billions in subsidies to do exactly that.
There are hundreds of these tax-exempt, so-called charities funneling money to illegal Israeli settlements, often with the names no more creative than “American Friends of name an Israeli settlement.”
One such organization, American Friends of Ariel Inc., paints a picture of how these US based front groups collect tax-deductible donations, and use them to build and expand illegal Israeli settlements, and in some cases, purchase weapons for the settlers within them. In many cases, including that of American Friends of Ariel Inc., the organization does not make substantial efforts to disguise the fact that the US based tax exempt entity is nothing more than a shell organization being used to transfer money abroad.
For example, the president of American Friends of Ariel, Ron Nachman, also happens to be the longtime mayor of Ariel. The sole programmatic function of American Friends of Ariel is to transfer funds to a non-exempt organization based in Ariel called the Ariel Development Fund, also controlled by Nachman, which describes itself simply as the “fundraising arm of the city of Ariel.” Under Ron Nachman’s leadership, American Friends of Ariel transferred more than $5 million to the Ariel Development Fund over the last several years.
It is worth noting that much of the funding for American Friends of Ariel has come from Christian Zionist groups, and in general, these groups have played an increasingly dominant role in the financial and political support for the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise.
The work of American Friends of Ariel Inc., and the many tax-exempt organizations like it, is having a devastating impact on local Palestinian communities. A recent report by the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs, covered by the Ma’an News Agency, described the “alarming trends of forced displacement of Palestinians in Area C” as a result of settlement expansion, and found that “more demolitions have taken place so far in 2011 than in all of 2009 and 2010 combined” (“UN: Marked increase in forced displacement of Palestinians,” 21 July 2011).
In addition to the gross human rights violations inherent in illegal Israeli settlement expansion, US taxpayers simply cannot afford to build homes and walls in illegal Israeli settlements while record numbers of Americans are losing their homes, and unmet domestic needs in the US are at an all time high.
American Friends of Ariel, and the vast number of organizations like it, not only violate Palestinian human rights, they violate US laws. American Friends of Ariel Inc. flouts US laws in two ways.
The first has to do with the structure of the organization, and the fact that most of these tax exempt 501(c)3 organizations are simply shells that transfer money to non-exempt organizations abroad, and the second deals with the exempt purposes set forth by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department.
The rule concerning the use of tax exempt entities as conduit organizations is clear, and states that “the code would be nullified if contributions inevitably committed to a foreign organization were held to be deductible solely because, in the course of transmittal to a foreign organization, they came to rest momentarily in a qualifying domestic organization” (Section 170(c)(2)(A)). That is exactly the case with American Friends of Ariel Inc., and hundreds of organizations like it, a fact which is abundantly clear upon review of their publicly available 990 tax forms.
Exacerbating poverty and neighborhood tensions
The second major legal violation occurs because these organizations fundamentally violate the purpose for which charities can be organized, namely to provide “relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.”
Illegal Israeli settlements, mostly built on expropriated land and operated with stolen resources, exacerbate poverty and systematically create an underprivileged class of people. Race-based colonies inherently increase neighborhood tensions, and they effectively annex occupied Palestinian land through a system of apartheid infrastructure that has been detrimental to Palestinian communities across the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The raison d’etre of illegal Israeli settlements is rooted in institutionalized discrimination, and therefore technically violates IRS regulations on a daily basis in the same way that Bob Jones University violated those same regulations barring discrimination (Bob Jones University v United States).
In 1983, the Supreme Court ruled that the IRS had the authority to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because they openly discriminated against interracially married individuals. The court ruled that such behavior was “wholly incompatible with the concepts underlying tax exemption,” and clarified by stating that “whatever may be the rationale for such private schools’ policies, racial discrimination in education is contrary to public policy.” Fundamental human rights like equality are not confined by jurisdiction, and organizations operating abroad are similarly bound to respect and uphold them.
The numerous and flagrant violations of the tax-exempt purposes set forth by the IRS and Treasury department should be reason enough to revoke the tax-exempt status of these organizations. It is hard to imagine the US playing any constructive role as an “honest broker” when in addition to providing $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel, Americans are also being forced to subsidize the construction and expansion of the same illegal settlements that our government is politely telling Israel are very unhelpful.
Because of the US government’s unwillingness to equally enforce the law, or use the proverbial stick instead of just carrots, money that would otherwise be going into our national treasury to pay down the debt or build affordable housing in the US, is instead being used to construct and defend Jewish-only colonies in the occupied West Bank.
Mike Coogan is a member of Virginians for Middle East Peace.
by Anthony Lawson
This video concentrates on the two major 9/11 issues: The Unidentified Planes and The Controlled Demolitions. Nothing else. It does not mention the NORAD stand–down; the don’t-fly and don’t-go-to-work warnings or the Dancing Israelis or any of the other anomalies and suspicious happenings. The alleged amateur suicide pilots are not mentioned, either, for obvious reasons, and I do not know what happened to the allegedly hijacked planes or their alleged passengers and crews.
It is my contention that the 9/11 Truth Movement has got to concentrate on the most blatant and provable lies in the official story, and stop trying to be an amateur Police Precinct or a citizen’s District Attorney’s Office. The Movement must bring pressure to bear in the authorities for a new enquiry, so that the police, the FBI, the NTSB and all of the other law enforcement and investigative agencies can do what should have been done 10 years ago: Find out who was responsible for the crime of the attacks on 9/11 and bring them to justice.
While I was thinking about a video for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, an English artist named David Borrington got in touch, and asked if I would write and record some voice commentaries to be included in a set of prints that he was making for the same occasion. When I saw his strangely haunting artwork, I decided to incorporate David’s images into my video. So, my sincere thanks go to David Borrington, whose website is http://www.davidborrington.com
I would also like to recommend that anyone who is interested in the research done on the Murray Street engine take a look at Christopher King’s excellent web page:
Music: Adagietto – 4th Movement from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.5
One Hell of a Humanitarian Mission
After some 8,000 bombing raids, with estimates of 4 bombs used per attack NATO has already dropped over 30,000 bombs on Libya. That’s almost 200 bombs per day for 6 months, some tens of thousands of tons of high explosives. With an estimated 2 Libyans killed per bomb and without a single NATO casualty the Western regimes have massacred over 60,000 Libyans in the past half year with the rebels themselves having said there have been 50,000 Libyan deaths. One hell of a humanitarian intervention isn’t it?
How the “civil war” in Libya has proceeded can best be described in light of the events of August 21. On that Sunday afternoon a BBC film crew showed a rebel column fleeing the approaches to Zawiya outside of Tripoli. With their tails between their legs, glancing fearfully over their shoulders as they fled wildly back down the road from whence they came, even the BBC presstitute on the scene could not contain his disgust at the sight. Once again the rebels had run into stiff resistance and had shown their true mettle by fleeing the fight.
The next morning a France24 reporter recounted how later that Sunday night she had accompanied these same rebels as they drove almost unopposed through Zawiya into Green Square in the heart of Tripoli, this time passing row upon row of bombed out still burning buildings.
This has been NATO’s war and while the world may not understand this, the Libyan rebels certainly do.
A major problem for NATO and its Libyan Quisling League a.k.a the National Transitional Council (NTC) is that most of the rebel military is now under the leadership of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a self described affiliate of Al Queda in the Maghreb (North Africa). The “general” in command of the mainly ethnic Berber rebel fighters that have captured the Libyan capital, known as the Tripoli Military Council, is the head of the LIFG. One of his top commanders is head of the Benghazi based rebel army. With the recent murder of “General” Younnis, former head of the Libyan secret police and once considered the most feared man in the country, the LIFG has now taken over leadership of almost all of the most effective fighting forces of the Libyan rebellion.
Quite an accomplishment and Al Queda in the Maghreb’s sincere thanks must go to the USA and its allies in NATO.
As the former LIFG terrorists turned “freedom fighters” go house to house arresting and executing “Gaddafi supporters” and “African mercenaries” in Tripoli life for the ordinary people of the city has become one of survival. Without water for almost two weeks now, without cooking gas or fuel for their cars and with food in short supply the future for the people of Tripoli remains uncertain.
Some reports in the international media have claimed that the Great Man Made River (GMMR), the irrigation system that supplies northern Libya with almost all its water was bombed by NATO. Other reports claim that “Gaddafi loyalists” still control the southern water wells and have shut off the water supply. If the later is true then even Benghazi’s water supply is in jeopardy. In any case, Tripoli is going to be dependent on imported water for quite some time and how a city of almost 2 million is to survive using water imported via water trucks is a question the western media has stopped talking about.
The “Transitional National Council” now recognized as “the legitimate government of Libya” by NATO governments and their allies is made up of many former high ranking Libyan Government officials and is increasingly caught in a tough spot. With the African Union trying to block the release of Libyan Government funds held in western banks there is little time to spare if this NTC’s control is to remain in place.
South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the NTC leaders as embezzlers and demanded they return the tens of millions of dollars the NTC top leadership is charged with stealing during their days in office in the Libyan government before the AU lifts its opposition to Gaddafi government funds being released to the NTC.
NATO leaders are having to scramble to keep the NTC afloat. Images of pallets stacked 6 feet high with 200 million Libyan Dinars flown in from London show just how touch and go it has become for the NTC’s attempts to maintain its influence. While NATO’s “Friends of LIbya” circus held in Paris promises the release of Libya’s $billions held ransom by the west, implementing these promises is another matter all together. Corruption and incompetence mark the NTC leadership’s past and it will come as no surprise to hear reports of massive embezzlement of these funds in the future
How much longer the LIFG/Al Queda lead rebel armies will stand by and allow their former bitter enemies in the TNC to remain in power is the $60 billion question. Already the rebel “government” in the port city of Misrata has announced they do not recognize the authority of the TNC and rallies demanding the removal of the former Libyan government officials in the TNC have been reported taking place on an almost daily basis there.
In the mean time the vast reaches of the southern Libyan desert have not been conquered by NATO and almost all of Libya’s water and much of its oil remains outside of the control of the NTC.
With hundreds of villages and small towns scattered across an immense area Col. Gaddafi and his supporters still have a vast area at their disposal. With Algeria fighting Al Queda in the Maghreb their border on Libya’s western flank remains open and allows opponents of the NATO backed rebels a safe haven. The NTC has already raised the alarm about a nasty long term insurrection based in southern Libya using Algeria as base.
So far the Al Queda lead rebel fighters and the west’s bully boys in the NTC have yet to begin to eat each other though it seems almost inevitable that internal warfare amongst the rebels will take place. We may yet see NATO warplanes bombing its erstwhile allies in the Libyan rebellion.
The one thing that is clear is that the Libyan Tragedy has just begun and that the capture of most of northern Libya by the NATO backed rebels is just its first phase. 30,000 bombs over Libya killing some 60,000 Libyans marks the beginning rather than the end of this disaster.
Thomas C. Mountain was a member of the 1st US Peace Delegation to Libya in 1987
Turkey has imposed sanctions on Israel following Turkey’s rejection of a UN report on Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla last year.
In the latest developments on Friday morning, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu rejected the findings of the report and announced unprecedented sanctions on Israel saying “it’s time for Israel to pay a price.”
From 7 September, diplomatic ties will be reduced to the lowest level, all Turkish-Israeli military agreements will be canceled, and Turkey will support victims of the Israeli attack on the flotilla to pursue justice through legal cases.
Crucially, Davutoğlu affirmed that Turkey does not recognize the blockade of Gaza which the Palmer report attempted to justify, and which a UN Human Rights Council official fact-finding mission had already ruled to be illegal. Turkey will also challenge the Israeli siege of Gaza through international legal channels.
Palmer report attempts to whitewash attack on flotilla, justify Israeli siege
A leaked copy of the Palmer report into Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 was published by the New York Times on Thursday, a day before its expected official release by the UN Secretary General.
On 31 May 2010, Israel attacked the largest ship in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, killing 9 people on board.
Publication of the report had been delayed several times as Turkey and Israel attempted to negotiate a settlement. Turkey demanded an apology for the attack, compensation for victims and an end to the siege of Gaza. In his statement today Davutoğlu said Israel had passed up many opportunities to resolve the issue.
The four-member committee that wrote the Palmer report was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and was chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and vice-chaired by former president of Colombia Alvaro Uribe.
This panel is in addition to an official UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission which reported last September that Israel’s attack on the ships was illegal.
According to the The New York Times article on the Palmer report, the Palmer panel:
has found that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is both legal and appropriate. But it said that the way Israeli forces boarded the vessels trying to break that blockade 15 months ago was excessive and unreasonable.
The report, expected to be released Friday, also found that when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship, they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection. But the report called the force “excessive and unreasonable,” saying that the loss of life was unacceptable and that the Israeli military’s later treatment of passengers was abusive.
An initial examination of the report indicates that these many of findings are not credible on their face for a number of reasons including the composition of the panel, its reliance on Israel which has controlled and withheld most of the evidence, and a skewed and politicized perspective which ignores the realities of Israel’s decades-long violent occupation of Gaza.
Palmer panel was stacked for Israel and includes notorious human rights abuser
As Jose Antonio Gutierrez and David Landy explained on The Electronic Intifada in August 2010, the panel was selected almost entirely according to Israel’s dictates:
The commission is composed of four persons, one chosen by Turkey, one chosen by Israel and two chosen from a list provided by Israel. The latter two are former Prime Minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer, who will be the chair, and Uribe, who will serve as vice-chair. While Palmer, an expert in international law, is an uncontroversial choice, the appointment of Uribe is as perplexing as it is shocking. It appears that “balance” in this commission involves balance between someone versed in international and human rights law and someone who is adamantly opposed to it. This notion of balance fatally weakens this commission even before it has started, and tarnishes the process of international law.
Uribe himself has a long and notorious history of violating human rights on a massive scale, attacking human rights defenders and organizations, and expressing contempt for any notion of law that restrains states from engaging in almost any kind of violence they desire.
Gutierrez and Landy on Uribe’s record in Colombia:
In June 2010 an international human rights mission investigated the biggest mass grave in the western hemisphere — containing some 2,000 execution victims who had been dumped there since 2004 — which had just been discovered in the Colombian town of La Macarena. At the same time Uribe travelled to that very locality but not to pay his condolences to the victims’ families, or guarantee that an investigation would determine what happened there. Instead, he went to visit the local military base — exactly the same people that, according to victims’ reports, filled that mass grave with its grisly contents — to praise them for their work.
On Uribe’s attacks on human rights defenders, Gutierrez and Landy write:
Uribe’s scorn for human right defenders is notorious. According to Human Rights First, “President Uribe and other administration officials have branded [human rights defenders] as terrorist sympathizers and have insinuated that illicit connections exist between human rights NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] and illegal armed groups. Irresponsible comments by government officials in Colombia put the lives of human rights defenders at even greater risk and threaten to undermine the value and credibility of their work” (“Human Rights Defencers in Colombia”).
In September 2009 Colombia was visited by Margaret Sekaggya, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders from the UN Human Rights Commission. Sekaggya found that constant problems faced by human rights defenders in Colombia include “Stigmatization [of human rights defenders] by public officials and non-State actors; their illegal surveillance by State intelligence services; their arbitrary arrest and detention, and their judicial harassment; and raids of nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) premises and theft of information” (“Report of the Special Rapporteur …,” 4 March 2010, pp. 13-18 [PDF]). Public officials in Colombia constantly attack human rights defenders and members of the political and social opposition as aides of “terrorists,” that is, left-wing guerrillas.
Uribe has led these attacks, calling human rights defenders “rent-a-mobs at terrorism’s service who cowardly wave the human rights flag,” “human rights traffickers,” “charlatans of human rights,” “bandits’ [ie. guerrillas] colleagues,” “intellectual front of the FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia]” and he has stated that “Every time terrorists and their supporters feel they will be defeated, they resort to denouncing human rights violations.”
This is just a small selection of Uribe’s verbal attacks on human rights organizations in his own country, but he has also referred to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as “rats.”
Uribe’s alliance with Israel
During Uribe’s term, Colombia, which is one of the top three recipients of US military aid along with Israel and Egypt, developed a close military alliance with Israel, as Gutierrez and Landy explain:
In recent years, according to news reports, Israel has become Colombia’s number one weapon supplier, with arms worth tens of millions of dollars, “including Kfir aircraft, drones, weapons and intelligence systems” being used against opponents of the Colombian regime (“Report: Israelis fighting guerillas in Colombia,” Ynet, 10 August 2007). According to a senior Israeli defense official, “Israel’s methods of fighting terror have been duplicated in Colombia” (“Colombia’s FM: We share your resilience,” 30 April 2010).
There is a reason that Latin Americans often refer to Colombia as the “Israel of Latin America,” and indeed why Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, ex-Minister of Defence and right hand of Uribe, expressed his pride at such a comparison (“Santos, orgulloso de que a Colombia lo comparen con Israel,” El Espectador, 6 June 2010).
As Gutierrez and Landy also point out, top officials in Uribe’s administration, including the president himself, frequently expressed full support for Israel’s fight against what it terms “terrorism.”
Israel withheld and manipulated evidence
The Palmer panel cannot be described in any sense as an independent investigation. As the report states:
The Panel received and reviewed reports of the detailed national investigations conducted by both Turkey and Israel. Turkey established a National Commission of Inquiry to examine the facts of the incident and its legal consequences, which provided an interim and final report to the Panel along with annexes and related material. Israel provided the report of the independent Public Commission that it had established to review whether the actions taken by the State of Israel had been compatible with international law.
The Panel reviewed these reports and further information and clarifications it received in written form and through direct meetings with Points of Contact appointed by each government.
The report adds:
In particular, the Panel’s means of obtaining information were through diplomatic channels. The Panel enjoyed no coercive powers to compel witnesses to provide evidence. It could not conduct criminal investigations. The Panel was required to obtain its information from the two nations primarily involved in its inquiry, Turkey and Israel, and other affected States.
The panel therefore interviewed no survivors or witnesses. Only Israel controlled most key physical evidence – the ship itself and the belongings and recordings of all the passengers and the weapons Israel used in carrying out the attack. The panel did not have uncensored access to the massive amounts of evidence in the form of photo and video from passengers on board that Israel has stolen, hidden and refused to release or return. As a consequence, of these crippling limitations, the report states:
It means that the Panel cannot make definitive findings either of fact or law. But it can give its view.
The panel also implies that its own independence is further in question because:
It will be clear from the above that the essential logic of the Panel’s inquiry is that it is dependent upon the investigations conducted by Israel and Turkey.
In contrast, the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission report published last September went much beyond merely commenting on information provided by governments. That fact-finding mission:
conducted interviews with more than 100 witnesses in Geneva, London, Istanbul and Amman.
And in addition to information provided by governments, the Human Rights Council also relied on information
including the evidence of eyewitnesses, forensic reports and interviews with medical and forensic personnel in Turkey, as well as written statements, video film footage and other photographic material relating to the incident.
Perhaps because of its thoroughness, Israel refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission, just as it refused to cooperate with the Goldstone report.
Accusations of “violent resistance”
The Palmer panel report claims:
Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded.
Given the fact that Palmer panel did not gather any evidence of its own, its conclusion that the Israeli military attackers who boarded the Mavi Marmara under cover of dark in international waters, faced “organized and violent resistance” can be given no more credibility than any common or garden Israeli military press release.
While Israel has repeatedly made such claims, it never produced independent evidence of it and – as noted – is still concealing evidence.
Nevertheless, the video footage that did escape Israeli confiscation showed:
- Indiscriminate live fire by the Israeli attackers
- A working journalist who appears to have been executed
- Evidence of targeted assassination of at least one passenger
Even the deeply flawed Palmer report is forced to admit:
The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable. Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces. No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths. Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel.
Moreover, the propagandistic Israeli claims that their soldiers were mistreated were belied by photographs that showed passengers giving aid and protection to Israeli attackers who had been disarmed.
It is possible of course that passengers defended themselves against a terrifying Israeli assault in dead of night with a full military arsenal that included assault helicopters and elite commandos against a civilian ship.
Indeed, footage shows terrified passengers hiding and attempting to fend off indiscriminate fire with sticks in a blood-stained stairwell. But to equate any of this to “organized and violent resistance” that could in any way justify Israel’s execution-style killings is completely absurd.
The blockade is “legal”
The Palmer report’s assertion that the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza is legal and necessary for “security” echoes the other aspects of the report that accept Israeli military propaganda as given.
By privileging the security of Israel, the occupying power, the report also ignores the rights and needs for security of the Palestinian people in Gaza who are being collectively punished and who have been subjected to decades of indiscriminate Israeli military attacks in which thousands of civilians have been killed and injured.
Yet this opinion of the Panel is, as the report states, not binding in any legal sense. But more importantly, it has no bearing at all on the assault on the Mavi Marmara, which Israel attacked in international waters as it was moving away from the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-controlled coast of Palestine.
Israel’s claim that it needs to blockade people it is violently victimizing in order to prevent them obtaining any means means whatsoever to defend themselves can only be made by wholly ignoring the context of Israel’s violent occupation of Gaza and decades of well-documented war crimes.
Israel is not in a defensive position in which it can claim a “security” need to impose a blockade. Israel is the military aggressor which for decades from 1967 until 2005 violently colonized the Gaza Strip, placing settlers there in blatant violation of international law. Since 2005, Israel has continued to occupy besiege, harass, attack and kill civilians in Gaza with almost no respite culminating in the indiscriminate killing of hundreds of civilians during the 2008-2009 “Operation Cast Lead.”
A perfect example of Israel’s wanton violence was its unprovoked series of attacks on the Gaza Strip last month which killed more than two dozen people, including children.
Human Rights Council fact-finding mission and legality of Israeli blockade
The UN Human Rights Council had already concluded that Israel’s interception of the flotilla was illegal because the blockade was unjustified:
In evaluating the evidence submitted to the Mission, including by OCHA oPt [Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories), confirming the severe humanitarian situation in Gaza, the destruction of the economy and the prevention of reconstruction (as detailed above), the Mission is satisfied that the blockade was inflicting disproportionate damage upon the civilian population in the Gaza strip and that as such the interception could not be justified and therefore has to be considered illegal.
It also concludes:
The Mission considers that one of the principal motives behind the imposition of the blockade was a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip leave no doubt that Israel’s actions and policies amount to collective punishment as defined by international law.
the blockade amounts to collective punishment in violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.
Palmer panel went against international consensus on blockade
Moreover, the Turkish appointee on the Palmer panel, Süleyman Özdem Sanberk, noted in a dissenting statement rejecting large parts of the report:
On the legal aspect of the blockade, Turkey and Israel have submitted two opposing arguments. International legal authorities are divided on the matter since it is unprecedented, highly complex and the legal framework lacks codification. However, the Chairmanship and its report fully associated itself with Israel and categorically dismissed the views of the other, despite the fact that the legal arguments presented by Turkey have been supported by the vast majority of the international community. Common sense and conscience dictate that the blockade is unlawful.
- Also the UN Human Rights Council concluded that the blockade was unlawful. The Report of the Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission received widespread approval from the member states.
- Freedom and safety of navigation on the high seas is a universally accepted rule of international law. There can be no exception from this long-standing principle unless there is a universal convergence of views.
- The intentions of the participants in the international humanitarian convoy were humanitarian, reflecting the concerns of the vast majority of the international community. They came under attack in international waters. They resisted for their own protection. Nine civilians were killed and many others were injured by the Israeli soldiers. One of the victims is still in a coma. The evidence confirms that at least some of the victims had been killed deliberately.
- The wording in the report is not satisfactory in describing the actual extent of the atrocities that the victims have been subjected to. This includes the scope of the maltreatment suffered by the passengers in the hands of Israeli soldiers and officials.
After Goldstone, protecting Israel
Based on what was known before its report became public, and now that we have read the report, it is clear that the Palmer panel was no more than political exercise by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to whitewash Israel’s attack on the flotilla and protect it from any real accountability.
After Israel and the United States’s all out war on the Goldstone report detailing Israeli war crimes in Gaza, it appears that international officials are unwilling to repeat the experience.
Indeed, an exclusive report on The Electronic Intifada in June 2010 revealed intense diplomatic efforts to undermine Turkey’s push for an independent UN investigation into Israel’s flotilla attack.
The Palmer panel was stacked from the start to ensure Israeli impunity, not to provide truth for the victims and survivors of the Mavi Marmara.
Observers of the systematic Israeli abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), especially the demolition of houses and the resultant forced expulsion of the Palestinian population, may be surprised at the absence of any international legal action by Palestinian officials against Israel. They would probably conclude that the Palestinians have a “successful case in the hands of an unsuccessful lawyer”.
The demolition of houses and confiscation of Palestinian land is now well-documented in United Nations reports and by many human rights organizations around the world, and even in Israel. The Palestinian Authority (PA), however, has not fulfilled its duty by initiating legal action internationally against these serious violations by the Zionist state.
In fact, the PA’s official position on Israel’s criminal demolition of Palestinian homes has been limited to mere condemnation; this does not live up to the level of required legal responsibility. Expressions of concern about Israel’s Judaisation policies are made even by pro-Israel states, so it is totally inadequate for the PA to make such statements and little else.
That the PA is loath to take the matter further was confirmed two years ago by Hatem Abdul Qader, the former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, who revealed that Ramallah pursues a policy of “tolerance” towards Israel and the Judaisation of Jerusalem. This tolerance extends to the absence of any legal challenges in Israeli courts against decisions to demolish homes and confiscate Palestinian land.
In this brief study, the issue of house demolitions in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 will be assessed from an international legal point of view. I will try to identify the legal avenues that can be followed to prosecute the Israeli government and the parties involved in these violations of international law.
Before delving into the legal details of violations related to the demolition of Palestinian homes, I will determine the international legal status of the Palestinian territories which have been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of June 1967.
The international legal status of the Palestinian territories
When talking about the Palestinian territories captured by Israel during the 1967 war, we often refer to the famous Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). These resolutions establish the legal basis of determining that Israel is an occupying power in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and demand that it withdraws from territories so occupied. However, the reality is that there are many Security Council resolutions which confirm that the territories occupied by Israel since the war of June 1967 are considered to be occupied territory under international law and which call on Israel to withdraw from them.
For example, Security Council resolutions 237 (1967), 248 (1968), 252 (1968), 258 (1968), 259 (1968), 267 (1969), 271 (1969 ), 298 (1971), 339 (1973), 368 (1975), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 468 (1980), 469 (1980), 471 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 484 (1980), 497 (1981), 500 (1982), 592 (1986), 605 (1987), 608 (1988), 636 (1989), 641 (1989), 672 (1990), 673 (1990), 681 (1990), 694 (1991), 726 (1992), 1073 (1996), 1322 (2000), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1850 (2008) and 1860 (2009). The resolutions confirmed that the Arab territories seized by Israel during the 1967 war, are all occupied territory.
Formal resolutions aside, similar statements have been issued by the presidency of the Security Council, including, but not limited to, statements by the incumbent Presidents of the Council on 26 January 1984, 26 August 1988, 19 June 1990, 4 January 1991, 27 March 1991 and 4 April 1992. All these statements called on Israel to abide by international legal obligations towards this land, as stipulated in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 as occupied territory.
In the same vein, several resolutions have been issued by the UN General Assembly confirming that the Palestinian lands seized by Israel after the 1967 war are considered in international law to be occupied territories and to which the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 apply. For example, General Assembly resolutions 2253 (ES-V) (1967) and 2254 (ES-V) (1967), 3236 (XXIX) (1974), 3237 (XXIX) (1974), 32/5 (1977) and 33/113 (1978), ES-7/2 (1980), ES-9/1 (1982), 37/135 (1982), 38/144 (1983), 4/47 (1991), 46/76 (1991), 46/82 (1991), 50/84 (1995) and 50/129 (1995).
In the advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israel’s construction of the separation wall inside the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, the Court emphasized that the status of these territories in international law is that they are under Israeli occupation.
In addition to these international resolutions and documents, there are many legal documents and international legal and Human Rights Council resolutions, including the report of the UN fact-finding mission on the conflict in Gaza, known as the Goldstone Report. All emphasize the status of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, which include Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Based on “international legitimacy”, therefore, the territories occupied by Israel since the Six Day War of June 1967, are under an “illegal occupation”. Accordingly, the related provisions of international law are applicable, including the Hague Convention of 1907, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the two additional Protocols to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949,signed in 1977. Israeli claims to the contrary mean that it is rejecting its obligations towards the occupied territories and the population therein.
Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes
The long-standing Israeli policy and practice of demolishing Palestinian homes serves as a tool of the ethnic cleansing pursued by successive Israeli governments. It is perhaps useful to recall that ethnic cleansing is one of the main pillars of the policies upon which the Jewish state was built, something that has been documented not only by international jurists, but also by Israeli historians. In his book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”, the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe presented evidence of the crime of ethnic cleansing carried out by Israeli forces in 1948; Dr. Pappe concluded that Israel’s crime resulted in the expulsion of more than 800,000 Palestinians from their country.
Three years ago, the Israeli occupying forces demolished all the houses in the village of Taweel Abu Jarwal in the Negev Desert and confiscated property belonging to the Palestinian population, including their livestock and their tents. In an example of what could be classified as the worst, most prolonged example of ethnic cleansing in human history, the people were left without shelter under a harsh sun; even their water tanks were destroyed by the Israelis.
In keeping with the illegal historical acts of the Zionist state, Israel’s current government has continued the policy of house demolition and confiscation of Palestinian land. According to the Palestinian Strategic Report 2010, the Israeli army and the Israeli-led Jerusalem Municipality demolished 194 Palestinian homes in 2010 alone. Of these, 44 houses in the Jerusalem Governorate were knocked down mostly on the pretext of having no building permit. The Israeli occupation forces also warned the owners of 1,393 Palestinian homes, including 119 homes in Jerusalem, of evacuation and the “need” for demolition. The Israeli authorities often resort to the argument of construction without a permit to give a fig-leaf of legitimacy to the demolition process.
Similarly, in 2010 the Israeli government confiscated and destroyed 13,149 dunums (1 dunum = 1,000 sq.m) of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, uprooting 10,364 trees. This brought the number of trees uprooted by Israeli occupation forces to 2.5 million since 1967.
It is apparent that the Israeli authorities choose the Palestinian land deliberately for its so-called development projects. Arab member of the Knesset Jamal Zahalka, head of the parliamentary National Democratic Gathering, revealed recently the Israel intention to confiscate more than 700 dunums of Palestinian land in the next few weeks to build a centre for the maintenance and repair of trains.
All of this appears to pass without any international legal accountability even though every single one of these cases falls under the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibits and criminalises all acts of the confiscation of Palestinian land and the forced expulsion of the population to change the country’s demographics. Every such case is worthy of independent legal pursuit.
Demolition of houses in international law
If international laws were designed originally to protect human life and dignity, regardless of colour, gender or race, then the first thing to honour someone is not to deprive them of a decent place to live with their family.
The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations includes an indication that the objectives of the establishment of the United Nations is to maintain “fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the individual… And creating conditions under which justice can prevail… pushing towards promoting social progress, and the quality of life…”
Needless to say that these noble goals cannot be achieved by those deprived of their homes, or who have had their property confiscated unlawfully and had themselves and their children put on the streets by the state of Israel when it destroys Palestinian homes and confiscates land from its owners.
Israel’s policy of confiscating houses is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, in which Article 21 stipulates that no one shall be subjected to “arbitrary interference in his private life or home…” This also violates Article 8 (1) of the European Charter of Human Rights, which affirmed the sanctity of the private residence of individuals. Article 11 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stressed on the “decent life” and having “adequate housing” for all individuals in all societies. How does someone get a “good life” when he has been pushed out of his home into the open, without shelter, with no acceptable legal reason?
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits collective punishment, which is committed frequently by Israel against the Palestinians; family homes are often destroyed as a punishment for one family member. The same Article 33 also stipulates the “Prohibition of Reprisals against protected persons and their property”.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, meanwhile, banned forcible transfer of people, individually or collectively. Article 8/2/a/7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court also prohibits illegal deportation or transfer, which is inherent in Israel’s policy of demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property.
In is clear, therefore, that the Israeli policy of house demolitions and land confiscation represents two grave crimes, a “crime against humanity” under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, and a “war crime” under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
The Israeli authorities seek to justify their violations of the law on the grounds of “self-defence”, even though the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on building the separation wall inside the occupied Palestinian territories, and the resultant confiscation of property, rejected the Israeli argument The Court emphasized that Israel, as an occupier, may not invoke Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations relating to the principle of self-defence for any attack coming from the land it occupies, and said:
“And so Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations acknowledges that there is a natural right to self-defence in the case of a state launching an armed attack on another country, however, Israel does not claim that the attacks against it can be attributed to a foreign country. The Court also notes that Israel exercises control in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the threat which Israel considers as a justification for the construction of the wall originates within the land and not outside and thus Israel cannot in any way, claim to exercise the right to self-defence. And therefore the Court concludes that Article 51 of the Charter has no relevance to this case.”
Despite all of this, Israel persists in what it claims to be one of its rights represented in the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property. Adding insult to injury, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) approved a while back to force the house owner to pay for the demolition costs. This is unprecedented.
Legal steps that can be taken
There are six international legal remedies which can be taken to address Israel’s violations of international law regarding house demolitions:
1. A request can be made for a special session of the UN Security Council after each case of a house being demolished or land confiscated. This is well-known to experienced politicians. The negative impact on the people under occupation must be stressed, as the demolition represents a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
2. The UN General Assembly carries major political and international weight, and approaches can be worked through the resolution “Uniting for Peace” and the establishment of a special court for war crimes under Article 22 of the Charter to look into these serious legal violations carried out by Israel.
3. The Human Rights Council of the United Nations can be requested to form an independent commission to study the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories, such as the UN mission tasked with examining the Israeli attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, which produced the Goldstone Report.
4. A request can be made for an advisory opinion of the ICJ on the legitimacy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, based on article 65 (1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Such an opinion of the court, similar to the advisory opinion on the separation wall, would be a valuable legal document for use in international bodies or national courts in Western countries against the Israeli government and parties involved in such violations. The legal value gained by the Palestinians from the opinion of the Court regarding the separation wall in the occupied territories is priceless, as that judicial opinion became a source of reference and a basis on which to respond to Israeli claims in international legal forums.
5. Construction companies and parties involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes can be sued under the principle of “universal jurisdiction” as per Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, in the courts of states which are signatories as demolition of homes in these circumstances is a grave breach of the Convention.
It is perhaps useful to note in this regard that in autumn 2007, the French courts agreed to look into two cases against two French companies which had agreed to build a railway in Israel, part of which passed through the occupied Palestinian territories. The railway would change the landscape it passed through and lead to the forced displacement of the local population. French legislation allows the consideration of cases in which individuals or companies are involved in violations of international law. It is unfortunate that there was no involvement by the Palestinian government in this significant legal effort.
6. Member States of the International Criminal Court can be requested to file a case in the court against Israel and to investigate the demolition of Palestinian homes and the forced expulsion of the Palestinian population. Both acts represent a “crime against humanity” under Article 7/1/d of the Statute of the Court, and a “war crime” under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
In this regard, Jordan, which is a member of the International Criminal Court, has arguably a special legal responsibility, as the damage inflicted on Palestinians is often deflected onto the kingdom’s territory because of the links between Palestinians and Jordanians.
It is important to stress that all of these options are important; one cannot take the place of another. The mere threat of using international law as a weapon frightens the Israeli government – which coined the term “lawfare” to describe legal action against it because criminals fear nothing as much as the sword of justice.
If the Goldstone Report gave the Israeli authorities a legal jolt, unprecedented in the history of the Zionist state, it should have encouraged the Arabs to follow the path of international law to seek justice for the Palestinians. This is especially important as the law is often the weapon of choice of our adversaries.
The level of official Palestinian indifference to the crime of ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has to cause us to question the Palestinian Authority’s lack of legal action against what is, after all, one of the most serious of crimes. This, despite the fact that the legal options cited above would be obvious to any first-year Law student.
Perhaps that old adage of the “successful case in the hands of an unsuccessful lawyer” is beginning to look more like a “successful case in the hands of a conspiring lawyer”.
The author is a professor of international law at King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia
Abu Arafeh received the decision Wednesday morning from the Ofer prison administration on grounds of being a threat to the Israeli state, SNA said quoting members of Abu Arafeh’s family.
His family was shocked that the ruling was made without formal charges being placed and without a hearing in an Israeli court. They confirmed that Abu Arafeh is currently behind bars in the Ofer prison near Ramallah city in the West Bank.
SNA condemned the decision, calling on rights groups and the local and international media to urgently intervene.
SNA considered the decision as part of a campaign Israel has launched against Palestinian and foreign reporters to force them to stop disseminating Israel’s crimes.
NABLUS — Armed Israeli settlers attacked Jalud village south of Nablus on Friday demanding that villagers leave their homes, a Palestinian official said.
Clashes broke out and Israeli police arrived on the scene, where they fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse villagers, Ghassan Doughlas, the Fatah official charged with monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an.
The settlers, from a small outpost near Jalud called Ahiya, attacked homes and properties, Doughlas said.
Threatening villagers with weapons, they called on the Palestinians to evacuate the village, he added.
A spokeswoman from Israel’s ‘Judea and Samaria’ Police said groups of Palestinians and Israeli settlers from Ahiya gathered “to protest about each other.”
“One of the Israelis said they heard someone shoot in the air, so the police came, but they didn’t see any shooting” and went on to disperse the group, she said.
Jalud, a community of about 600 Palestinians, faces high unemployment and migration from the village as land confiscation and violence from nearby outposts Ahiya and Kida, both about 50-person strong, pose a threat to the village, Jalud’s mayor says.
Outposts are communities built without official Israeli government permission in the West Bank, often expanding the larger and accredited settlements on Palestinian land, although many outposts are established with tacit state support.
The latest figures from the Israeli group Peace Now, which opposes the settlements, puts the number of Israeli settlement outposts at around 100.
Six outposts and two larger settlements, Shilo and Eli, surround the Jalud area.
The Tel Aviv municipality in western Israel has become the latest of a dozen school districts in Israel to force children to attend schools segregated by race and nationality.
A number of school districts in the last several years have forced students into separate schools based on the students’ nationality, religion or ethnicity. Some schools have specifically excluded Africans, even though many of the Africans in Israel are Jewish. The issue of segregated schools is one that has been raised by activists worldwide who have challenged what they call Israel’s ‘apartheid’ practices — a reference to the race-based system in South Africa prior to 1994.
Four new kindergartens opening this year in the Bitzaron neighborhood in Tel Aviv will be segregated based on whether the students have Israeli or foreign identity cards.
The newly-segregated kindergartens in Tel Aviv do not include Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, who have always had to attend separate schools from Jewish Israelis.
An attorney for the Hotline for Immigrant Workers told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that the segregated schools violate Israeli law, adding, “if the children are being separated for being foreign, or for being asylum seekers, then it’s illegal. The compulsory education law applies to everyone, and registration for kindergartens and schools shouldn’t be on the basis of nationality, religion, race or legal status.”
Some parents registering their children for kindergarten were upset about the segregation policy in the district. Anat Ben-Moshe told a Ha’aretz reporter, “When I asked why they don’t mix the children, they said when the majority are foreign, there’s a problem with the parents. As a parent, I now have to explain this separation to my daughter, which seems much more problematic.”
Israel has over thirty laws that separate people based on race and religion, and all Israelis receive identity cards which state their nationality as either ‘Jewish’, ‘Arab’ or ‘Other’. Israeli authorities say they will continue the practice of dividing its population in order to ‘ensure the character of the Jewish state remains intact’.
As reports have been published about Israel’s refusal to present an official apology to Turkey over the Israeli Navy’s attack against Turkish Mavi Marmara that was carrying aid to the besieged Gaza strip in 2010, Turkey has assured that it will respond to such a step by imposing sanctions against Israel.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted by the Turkish Hurriyet Daily as saying that “if Israel did not apologize and did not declare its willingness to financially compensate the families of the dead and those injured, Turkey will put in place certain sanctions.”
The sanctions include limiting diplomatic relations between the two countries and expelling the Israeli ambassador from Turkey, as well as launching a campaign in the United Nations against the Zionist entity.
Ynet news quoted an Israeli official as saying that “the (Israeli) Prime Minister knows that the public objects to apologizing to Turkey, and he apparently chose to go with what the public thinks.”
On Friday, the Turkish Foreign Minister held a press conference in which he announced the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.
“At this point the measures we are taking are: The relations between Turkey and Isreal will be downgraded to second secretary level. All officials over the level of second secretary, primarily the ambassador, will turn back to their country at the latest on Wednesday,” Davutoglu said.
“Second, all the military agreements between Israel and Turkey are suspended… “Third, as the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterrenean, Turkey will take every precaution it considers necessary for the safety of maritime navigation to East Mediterranean,” he added.
Also from Reuters:
Davutoglu said some of the [Palmer/Uribe] report’s findings were questionable and that Turkey did not recognize the legitimacy of the blockade of Gaza.
“Turkey will take all measures which it sees as necessary for freedom of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean,” Davutoglu said.
“Turkey does not recognize Israel’s blockade of Gaza. It will secure the study of this blockade at the International Court of Justice. We are beginning initiatives to get the U.N. General Assembly moving (on this),” he added.
He also said support would be given to Turkish and foreign victims to seek justice from courts.