Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), discusses the causes and consequences of the fact that only about 5% of pledged donations have reached Gaza.
Ken Klippenstein: What has been the impact of the failure of donor aid funds to reach Gaza?
Chris Gunness: Let me illustrate that with one simple vignette. I was in Gaza yesterday, and I met a grandfather living in the northern area, which is near the fence with Israel. The man is 62. Two of his grandchildren froze to death (i.e., died of hypothermia) during the storm known as Huda, which was in January.
They are living, 15 of them, in a shack, which I assumed when I saw it from the road was for animals. When I went there, it was a tiny, three-roomed wooden structure covered in leaky plastic. It was raining, so water was flowing in. And that is the very place where baby Salima died on the 21st of January at the age of just 40 days old.
The floor is sand, and on top of that they’ve put threadbare carpets. When you sit on them, they’re so wet and cold [that] it’s no protection whatsoever. Baby Salima basically got rained on all night. There was nowhere for them to go. Her body was blue and trembling. They took her to the hospital, and after one night the doctor phoned up and said that Salima was dead. Another grandchild, a boy, was 50 days old. He was in a UN shelter; it was freezing cold, and he died very suddenly of hypothermia.
There are about 110,000 homes which are either completely uninhabitable or very badly damaged. Assuming each home has between six and eight people, that’s 600,000-800,000 people, approximately. So in terms of both the depth of the suffering and the breadth of the humanitarian impact, it’s immense.
KK: Why haven’t the donor funds gone through? We heard so many different countries, from the Gulf states to the West, pledged aid – $5.4 billion, in fact.
CG: Your question is a very good one. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. It’s not from lack of appeals from us; it’s not from want of me telling stories like this; it’s not from lack of donors being given the figures, analysis, what the cost will be in human terms. All of this stuff they know, so there’s absolutely no shortage of information.
KK: What obligation does the West – particularly the United States, but also Europe – have to reconstruct Gaza, given that they are the ones who armed Israel? The West armed Israel with precisely the same weapons that were used to destroy Gaza in this last operation.
CG: And also, it’s those same donors who all met in Cairo [and agreed to rebuild Gaza] – without any security guarantees that it’s not going to be completely leveled again in another couple of years’ time, as has happened for the last six years. There have been three wars since 2009.
You should also ask what are the responsibilities of the belligerent parties, because in a conflict, the belligerent parties are responsible for the protection of civilians.
I think if you look at the Palestinian refugees in Gaza … we have a situation where Gaza is under blockade and the political pressures that need to come to bear to lift the blockade are not being effectively brought to bear. So the blockade continues.
Not only do huge swaths of Gaza look like an earthquake just hit, but it’s proven very difficult to reconstruct, because the funds simply are not there.
What is the point of reconstructing Gaza if the place is not allowed to have a functioning economy? Do you want gleaming white, new houses and totally impoverished people because the population can’t export?
What you need in an economy like Gaza is to be able to import raw materials to make things [like] garments and export them. If you can’t export them, then you can’t have a functioning economy. The people of Gaza are incredibly entrepreneurial. They’re very proud. They don’t want to suffer the indignities of aid dependency.
What are the obligations of the international community? One of their obligations is to put pressures to bear on the right place so that the blockade is lifted by Israel and the people of Gaza are allowed to trade. If you trade, you can have a disposable income; if you have a disposable income, you can buy things.
We don’t want to be going to the donor community with our begging bowl in hand and asking for money. It’s much better if people in Gaza can have their own economy. Of course they’ll need assistance reconstructing the place, but thereafter, they need to have a functioning economy. Otherwise they’re going to be condemned for decades more to this life-support system known as international aid.
KK: Israel has necessitated this aid by its blockade since Gaza doesn’t have a viable economy?
CG: Yeah. In the year 2000, there were 80,000 people in UNRWA’s food distribution. Fifteen years later, it’s 10 times that – 800,000. A lot of that aid dependency is due to the fact that there’s a blockade and Gaza cannot trade.
Unemployment is 44%. Food insecurity is rising. 90% of the water in Gaza is undrinkable. That’s the impact of the blockade. It’s devastating.
KK: As a UN official, could you comment on what obligations Israel has [under international law] as the occupying force in the Palestinian territories?
CG: In the UN, Israel is an occupying power, and has obligations to provide services, housing, water, electricity; all the things which protected populations need to have in situations of occupation. It’s all very clearly stipulated in the 4th Geneva Convention.
KK: What has been the effect of the destruction of the supply tunnels running from Egypt to Gaza?
CG: Make no mistake, the destruction of the tunnels has devastated a lifeline to the people of Gaza. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever about that. But the majority of the crossings into Gaza are through Israel.
The Rafah crossing – I’ve been through it – is a single road in one direction. A very narrow road, actually. And a very narrow single road in the other direction. It is not a crossing through which you would want to mount a major import-export or aid operation to 1.8 million people.
KK: How does the failure of the aid to reach Gaza now compare with previous instances?
CG: This is as bad as it’s ever been, I think. After the Cairo conference where the donor community pledged $5.4 billion, we created a plan for $720 million [in aid]. That was for essentially two things: rental properties for people whose houses had been destroyed, and for repair and reconstruction. That $720 million plan has a deficit of $585 million.
I’ve never known it to be this bad and I’ve been here for 9 years.
KK: I imagine failing to reconstruct Gaza represents a security risk.
CG: Having 1.8 million desperate, isolated, destitute people at any country’s doorstep – especially given the history, and given that there’s a fence around it and a blockade – how can that ever be considered to be in anybody’s interest – not just Israel, but all of us?
The Palestinian cause is a source of anger and frustration in many places, including across the Middle East. So it’s in nobody’s interest anywhere in the world to have Gaza in the state that it’s in.
[This transcript has been lightly edited.]
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During the night of the February 22nd, Israeli occupation forces raided two homes belonging to the Edies family, in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. At least thirty soldiers invaded the homes of Yahya Edies and Saleh Edies at around 2:30 am on Sunday morning. Mhammad Edies, one of Yahya’s sons, reported to ISM volunteers that soldiers threatened his family, telling them “if you don’t open the door in 5 minutes, we will blow it up”.
Israeli soldiers ordered the family of twelve, including five children between 5 months and 12 years old, to gather in one room. One of the family’s sons was unable to follow the soldiers’ orders, since he is disabled and cannot move by himself; only after some discussion was he finally allowed to stay in the room he was in. The family was forced to stay inside that room for about an hour as the soldiers ransacked the house, upending furniture, strewing things all over the floor destroying the family’s belongings.
The soldiers upended furniture and destroyed belongings while the Palestinian family was trapped in one room – photo by Mhammad Edies
Israeli forces prevented ISM volunteers from documenting what was happening, pointing their guns and aiming lasers at them, yelling at and detaining those who attempted to leave their house to photograph the raid.
The following morning, a local a human rights activist reported that Israeli occupation forces had raided around 20 houses in Al-Khalil on that same night of the 21st to the 22nd of February alone.
Medical sources said the slain young man has been identified as Jihad Shehada al-Ja’fary, 19 years of age.
The sources added that al-Ja’fary was shot by a live round that penetrated his left shoulder, and lodged in his chest causing a severe bleeding.
The soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from reaching the seriously wounded man, and he bled to death before the medics managed to move him to the al-Yamama hospital, in Bethlehem.
His body was then moved to the Beit Jala governmental hospital, and will later be moved to a forensic center.
The slain Palestinian was standing on his home’s rooftop, overlooking the main road, when he was shot.
Eyewitnesses said scores of soldiers invaded the camp in an attempt to kidnap a Palestinian, an issue that led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles on them.
The army fired gas bombs, rubber-coated metal bullets and rounds of live ammunition, causing several injuries.
Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories increased by 40 per cent during 2014, Anadolu has reported. According to Israeli NGO Peace Now, which campaigns against illegal settlement construction, Israel started building 3,100 residential units in the Palestinian territories last year. It added that tenders for 4,485 additional residential units were published throughout 2014.
“On 30 January,” notes a Peace Now report, “tenders were issued for 450 more units in the occupied West Bank by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” Between 31 March 2009 and last month, the NGO pointed out, the two governments led by Netanyahu promoted at least 106 construction plans for 13,077 different residential units in 57 settlements.
International law considers the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories captured by Israel in 1967. All construction of Jewish settlements on the land is illegal. Palestinian negotiators have insisted that the establishment and building of Israeli settlements has to end before the stalled peace talks with Israel can resume.
A US jury on Monday found the Palestinian Authority (PA) liable for six attacks in Jerusalem that killed and injured Americans, awarding victims and their families more than $218 million in damages.
Under the US “anti-terrorism” act, the damages are automatically tripled, meaning that the PA and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are liable to pay more than $650 million.
Israeli authorities welcomed the decision as a “moral victory,” but the Palestinians accused the lawsuit of being politically motivated and vowed to appeal.
The jury reached its verdict following two half-days of deliberations, ending a landmark trial under US district judge George Daniels in New York that lasted more than five weeks.
The six attacks killed 33 people and wounded more than 390 others between January 2002 and January 2004.
The bombings and shootings were carried out by Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — blacklisted as terrorist organizations in the United States — during the second Palestinian uprising against the Zionist state.
The 12-member jury decided unanimously that the PA and PLO were liable on 25 separate counts connected to the six attacks.
They apportioned individual damages ranging from $1 million to $25 million to Americans who were injured or lost loved ones.
The total falls well short of the $1 billion sought by lawyers for 11 plaintiff families when the trial opened in mid-January.
‘Moral victory’ for Israel
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed the decision as a “moral victory for the state of Israel and for victims of terrorism.”
“Terrorism is an integral part of the very structure of the Palestinian Authority,” Lieberman said.
US attorney for the plaintiffs, Kent Yalowitz, welcomed the verdict.
“This is a great day for our country, it’s a great day for those who fight terror, we’re so proud of our families who stood up,” he told reporters.
It remains unclear if and how the PA can pay, as it is in serious financial difficulty because Israel has frozen its tax revenues.
Mahmoud Khalifa, Palestinian Authority deputy information minister, expressed dismay at the verdict and vowed to appeal what he called “baseless” charges.
He said the case was politically motivated by “anti-peace factions” in Israel to block a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We are confident that we will prevail, as we have faith in the US legal system and are certain about our common sense belief and our strong legal standing,” he said in a statement.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state – Israel – was declared inside historical Palestine.
In 1988, Palestinian leaders led by Arafat declared the existence of a State of Palestine inside the 1967 borders and the State’s belief “in the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the charter and resolutions of the United Nations.”
Heralded as a “historic compromise,” the move implied that Palestinians would agree to accept only 22 percent, believed to have become 17 percent after massive Israeli settlement building, of historic Palestine in exchange for peace with Israel.
Numerous Palestinian factions, including Hamas, as well as pro-Palestine advocates support a one-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians would be treated equally, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable and that it would mean recognizing a state of Israel on territories seized forcefully by Zionists before 1967.
They also believe that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.
The plaintiffs argued that the PA and PLO should be held responsible for providing material support to the groups responsible for the attacks, blacklisted as a foreign terrorist organizations in the United States.
The court also heard that members of the two groups were on the payroll of the two organizations.
Israeli lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner told reporters in New York that she would leave no stone unturned in forcing the Palestinians to pay.
“We’re going to take steps against their assets, they have assets in the United States, in Israel. We’re going to go after bank accounts and money that they are getting paid on a monthly basis in Israel, for instance.”
Defense attorneys refused to comment after the verdict.
Lawyers for the PA contended during the trial that the leadership should not be held responsible for “crazy and terrible” attacks carried out by people who acted independently.
“There is no conclusive evidence that the senior leadership of the PA or PLO were involved in planning or approving specific acts of violence,” lawyer Mark Rochon argued in court last week.
He said the plaintiffs “exaggerated” testimony to make the Palestinian Authority “look bad” based in part on Israeli intelligence.
The six attacks took place against Hebrew University, in Jaffa Road, King George Street, against the number 19 bus and in French Hills, an illegal Zionist settlement in east Jerusalem.
The trial adds a new dimension to the decades-long Zionist occupation of Palestine and tensions between the Palestinian people and Israel.
Violent practices by Israeli Occupation Forces and illegal settlers against Palestinians are endemic and often abetted by the authorities.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
In 2014, Israeli forces detained 1,266 Palestinian children below the age of 15 in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem.
According to the PLO, more than 10,000 Palestinian minors in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem have been held by the Israeli army for varying periods since 2000.
Since September 2000, following the Second Intifada, at least 9,100 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, including 2,053 Palestinian children, the equivalent of one Palestinian child being killed every three days for the past 14 years.
The verdict came two weeks after the United Nations approved the Palestinian Authority to formally join the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1. Although the US claims that the protection of human rights is one of its cornerstones, it slammed the PA’s ICC membership, rejecting the Palestinians’ right to hold Israel accountable for large-scale massacres.
As an ICC member, the PA can open probes into Israeli crimes and rights violations during the Israeli summer assault on Gaza and the period leading up to it.
For 51 days in August, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea with the stated aim of ending rocket fire from the coastal enclave.
More than 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, were killed, including 505 children, and 10,626 were injured by unrelenting Israeli attacks on the besieged strip.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed to push lawsuits in several countries against the PLO in retaliation of the ICC bid.
The United States is set to arm Israel with more fighter jets in a three-billion-dollar agreement signed between Washington and Tel Aviv over the weekend.
The deal includes 14 F-35 stealth fighters made by the US company, Lockheed Martin, at a cost of about $110 million each, Israeli officials announced on Sunday.
Other technological and training elements were also included in the military package.
Israel is expected to receive the fighter jets by the end of next year.
The United States provides Israel with some $8.5 million in military aid per day, adding up to over $3 billion annually.
In November, the Department of Defense announced plans to arm Israel with 3,000 smart bombs as part of Washington’s military aid to Tel Aviv.
In December, American lawmakers passed a bill to deepen Washington’s bonds with Tel Aviv, making Israel a “major strategic partner” of the United States.
The US House of Representatives approved the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which reflects “the sense of Congress that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States,” and declares Washington’s “unwavering support” for Israel.
The US military aid to Israel has prompted several demonstrations across the country against such deals.
American protesters argue that the US taxpayer money is used for more Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
“Islam and the West at War,” reads a recent New York Times headline.
It would certainly seem that way if one were to take at face value the putrid assertions of Western governments that are not particularly known for their honesty or integrity. But astute observers of history and geopolitics can spot a deception when they see one, and the latest theatrical performances being marketed to the masses as real, organic occurrences remind one of a Monty Python sketch.
In the past week we have witnessed a number of expedient events that were designed to legitimize the West’s imperialist foreign policies in the minds of the masses. On Feb. 15 the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) released another highly choreographed and visually striking video allegedly depicting the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Shortly following the video’s release, the Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sissi launched air strikes against ISIS targets in Libya where the execution video was allegedly filmed, although experts are now saying that the production was faked.
ISIS’s continued provocations in the form of carefully crafted, emotionally impactful execution videos (real or faked), such as the recent immolation of a caged Jordanian pilot, cannot possibly be the work of rational actors seeking a military victory in any capacity. The videos only ever work to ISIS’s disadvantage, solidifying the resolve of their current ‘coalition’ opponents as well as creating new enemies upon every release.
Sixty-two countries and groups are presently fighting in the dubious ‘coalition’ against ISIS, most of which have modern militaries with advanced air and ground forces. Why in the world does ISIS continue to entice more countries to join the already over-crowded alliance against them? Why a group that purports to want to establish a ‘state’ which will ostensibly govern millions of people is deliberately seeking more and more enemies and a constant state of war with them beggars belief.
Does ISIS think it can do battle with the whole planet and achieve victory, culminating in world domination? How do people who harbor such ridiculous delusions have the wherewithal and resources at their disposal to organize and recruit thousands of fighters from around the world to an utterly ludicrous cause doomed to sheer failure? How can this be anything but a contrived prank of an operation?
The only logical conclusion that many analysts have come to is that ISIS does not represent a grassroots, organic movement, but rather operates entirely as a cat’s paw of Western foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, which is concurrently under the domination of Israel. ISIS’s actions expressly benefit Muslims least of all and Israel/the West most of all, the extent of which increases with every new atrocity and outrage ISIS inflicts upon innocents in Iraq and Syria that gets endless play in Western media. In fact, the Western media’s obsession with ISIS is in and of itself an effective form of PR for the group. Western media outlets are consciously performing an unqualified service for ISIS’s recruiting efforts by affording the terrorist group ‘premium level branding’ that will attract criminally-inclined degenerates, Wahhabist religious zealots and disaffected, suicidal lowlifes from around the world to join a cause predestined to abject failure.
This senile ‘ISIS vs. The World’ spectacle is little more than a melodramatic screenplay engineered in a boardroom by professional propagandists and marketing aficionados. It resembles a classic ‘problem, reaction, solution’ dialectic of deceit. Who in their right mind believes the rancid mythology surrounding this orchestrated ‘good vs. evil’ Hollywood blockbuster?
Proxy Warriors: Cannon Fodder for the Empire
The West is not sincerely at odds with ISIS nor is it seeking to “degrade and destroy” the group, as US President Barrack Obama claims. One piece of information that undermines this good cop/bad cop puppet show is the West’s clandestine support of ISIS beginning with the artificial uprising in Libya. In 2011, the West openly sought to depose Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, and did so by backing ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups to do it. The maniac rebels who sodomized and then murdered Gaddafi in the street like a dog were hailed as ‘freedom fighters’ by the repellant thugs in Washington, Paris and London, and were fully aided and abetted with NATO air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces. The rebel victory in Libya was only made possible through Western military intervention. “We came, we saw, he died,” said Obama’s former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in reference to the assassination of Gaddafi by Washington’s foot soldiers, cackling like a witch at the demise of the Libyan potentate.
In a Nov. 19, 2014, article for Global Research, analyst Tony Cartalucci noted that the “so-called ‘rebels’ NATO had backed [in Libya] were revealed to be terrorists led by Al Qaeda factions including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” During the manufactured ‘uprising’ Gaddafi routinely declared in public speeches that al-Qaeda was leading the way. “Gaddafi blames uprising on al-Qaeda,” read one Al Jazeera headline from February 2011. A March 2011 Guardian report spoke of how “hundreds of convicted members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaida affiliate, have been freed and pardoned” under a “reform and repent” program headed by Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam. The same article acknowledged that the LIFG, which was established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, “has assassinated dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen” since its founding and that Britain’s MI6 had previously supported the group. That group formed the backbone of the anti-Gaddafi insurgency, and received all manner of support from the West and allied Gulf sheikhdoms.
In the aforesaid Global Research article, Cartalucci outlines how the synthetic insurrection in Libya was spearheaded by al-Qaeda franchises that were later subsumed into ISIS. A February 2015 CNN report entitled “ISIS finds support in Libya” revealed that since the fall of Gaddafi, ISIS has established a large and menacing presence throughout the North African country. “The black flag of ISIS flies over government buildings,” according to CNN’s reportage. “Police cars carry the group’s insignia. The local football stadium is used for public executions.” It adds that, “Fighters loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are now in complete control of the city of Derna, population of about 100,000, not far from the Egyptian border and just about 200 miles from the southern shores of the European Union.”
NATO effectively carpet-bombed Libya into rubble, paving a path of blood for ISIS and al-Qaeda death squads to seize power and institute their medieval ideology. That’s the reward for falling afoul of ‘the West’ and whatever drives it. Cartalucci further proved in another report entitled “Libyan Terrorists Are Invading Syria” that as soon as Gaddafi’s regime collapsed and rebel gangs emerged triumphant, thousands of battle-hardened and fanatical jihadist fighters took their Western training and weapons over to Syria to fight Bashar al-Assad in accordance with Washington’s ‘bait and switch’ scheme. Apparently, these hired mercenaries behave a lot like wild dogs chasing a piece of raw meat.
An absolutely identical scenario unfolded in Syria where Washington and its regional puppets led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been subsidizing the Islamist guerrillas from the outset. “Do you know of any major Arab ally of the US that embraces ISIL?” US Senator Lindsey Graham facetiously asked General Martin Dempsey at a Senate Armed Services Committee in 2014. To Graham’s surprise, Dempsey responded: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.” US Vice President Joe Biden himself confirmed this in an October 2014 speech wherein he told students at Harvard University that America’s Gulf allies – the Saudis and Qataris especially – were backing ISIS and Jahbat al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate) with substantive sums of arms and funds. A former US General, Thomas McInerney, told Fox News that the US government helped “build ISIS” by “backing some of the wrong people” and by facilitating weapons to al-Qaeda-linked Libyan rebels which ended up in the hands of ISIS militants in Syria. Retired US General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Wesley Clark, repeated this view in a February 2015 interview with CNN, saying that “ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies [in the Gulf]” who sought to use religious fanatics to assail the Shia alliance of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. “It’s like a Frankenstein,” he concluded.
A June 17, 2014, World Net Daily report highlights how Americans trained Syrian rebels who later joined ISIS in a secret base located in Jordan. Jordanian officials told WND’s Aaron Klein that “dozens of future ISIS members were trained [in a US run training facility in Jordan] at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.” Reports in Der Spiegel, the Guardian, Reuters and other mainstream outlets all confirmed that the US, Britain, France and their regional allies were training militants in secret bases in Jordan and Turkey as part of the West’s proxy war against the Assad regime.
The West has attempted to cover-up its support of ISIS and al-Qaeda elements by running a ‘two degrees of separation’ gambit. Washington claims to only provide support to ‘moderate, vetted’ rebel groupings, namely the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but this amounts to a calculated ruse to confound the credulous masses. FSA is the nom de gerre of a loose collection of rebel bandits who don’t operate under a central command framework or authority, rather acting independently or under the umbrella of other factions. Aron Lund, an expert on Syrian rebel groups, discerned in a March 2013 article titled “The Free Syrian Army Doesn’t Exist” that from the very beginning the FSA has been nothing more than a fictional branding operation.
During the initial stages of the insurgency, any militant faction in Syria looking for Western military aid called itself FSA and then took the weapons they received from the West straight to ISIS and Jahbat al-Nusra. The FSA functions as a conduit between Western governments and the Takfiri terrorists fighting Assad as well as an arms distribution network for them. In the aforesaid article, Lund explains that the FSA’s General Staff was set up in Turkey in 2012 “as a flag to rally the Western/Gulf-backed factions around, and probably also a funding channel and an arms distribution network, rather than as an actual command hierarchy.” Thousands of militants fighting under the FSA rubric have since joined or pledged allegiance to ISIS and al-Nusra.
Western governments know this and are apparently totally comfortable with it, revealing their bare complicity and collaboration with the Takfiri insurgents hell-bent on beheading their way to power in Syria and Iraq.
The Counterfeit Campaign
This inevitably creates confusion for people not studied in imperial geopolitics, especially after the West and its Gulf allies ‘declared war’ on ISIS in late 2014. The counterfeit campaign cannot be seen as anything other than a convenient, disingenuous volte-face maneuver designed to whitewash all of the aforementioned facts about the West’s dirty hands behind ISIS. Average plebs who receive all of their information from TV news channels won’t know about the West’s clandestine activities that effectively spawned ISIS and facilitated its rise to prominence in Iraq, Syria and Libya, so they will naturally take the West’s phony confrontation with ISIS at face value.
The West’s crusade to “degrade and destroy” ISIS is a preposterous hoax. In fact, evidence suggests that the West continues to covertly support ISIS with airdrops of weapons and supplies, whilst concurrently ‘bombing’ them in sketchy and deliberately ineffective air strikes.
Iran’s President Hassan Rohani called the US-led anti-ISIS coalition ‘a joke’ considering how many of its participants significantly helped bolster the terrorist group since its inception. In a January 2015 report, Iran’s Fars News Agency quotes a number of Iranian generals and Iraqi MPs who believe that the US is continuing to surreptitiously support ISIS with airdrops of weapons caches and other supplies. General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, a commander of Iran’s Basij (volunteer) Force, said that the US embassy in Baghdad is the “command center” for ISIS in the country. “The US directly supports the ISIL in Iraq and the US planes drop the needed aids and weapons for ISIL,” General Naqdi told a group of Basij forces in Tehran. Fars News cited Majid al-Gharawia, an Iraqi Parliamentary Security and Defense Commission MP, who said that the US are supplying ISIS with weapons and ammunition in a number of Iraqi jurisdictions.
An Iraqi security commission spoke of unidentified aircraft making drops to ISIS militants in Tikrit. Another senior Iraqi lawmaker, Nahlah al-Hababi, echoed these claims about US planes and other unidentified aircraft making deliveries to ISIS. She opined that, “The international coalition is not serious about air strikes on ISIL terrorists and is even seeking to take out the popular Basij (voluntary) forces from the battlefield against the Takfiris so that the problem with ISIL remains unsolved in the near future.” General Massoud Jazayeri, the Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, called the US-led coalition against ISIS a farce. “The US and the so-called anti-ISIL coalition claim that they have launched a campaign against this terrorist and criminal group – while supplying them with weapons, food and medicine in Jalawla region (a town in Diyala Governorate, Iraq). This explicitly displays the falsity of the coalition’s and the US’ claims,” the general said.
The US military claims these air deliveries are mistakenly ending up in ISIS’s possession and that they were intended for Kurdish fighters, but such a ridiculous assertion rings hollow among the true opponents of ISIS – Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Shiite volunteers in Iraq. Meanwhile, the laughable nature of Washington’s anti-ISIS gambit is underscored by the fact that its initial air strikes against ISIS’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, in September 2014 did little more than destroy a bunch of empty buildings. CNN let slip that ISIS fighters had evacuated their command centers in the city 15 to 20 days before US air strikes commenced, indicating that they were probably tipped off. A Syrian opposition activist told ARA News that “the targeted places [in Raqqa], especially refineries, were set on fire, pointing out that IS militants evacuated their strongholds in the last two days to avoid the U.S.-led strikes.”
The Hidden Hand of Zionism
The sham rebellion in Syria was devised and executed by outsiders to serve a nefarious anti-Syrian agenda. All of this seems very confusing if one doesn’t take into consideration the destructive proclivities of the state of Israel in the region.
Israel has essentially used the United States as a cat’s paw in the Middle East, manipulating America’s Leviathan military to smash up her enemies. The formidable Israeli lobby inside the US and its neoconservative lackeys who are a dominant force in the war-making apparatus of the US Military Industrial Complex is a key factor driving the Washington foreign policy establishment’s intransigent approach to the Middle East. When it comes to Middle East policy, the Israelis always get their way. “America is a thing you can move very easily… in the right direction,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu once bragged. “Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We control America,” the former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon boasted.
The destruction of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African states is a long-standing Zionist policy plan dating back to the 1950s. In 1982 a stunning Israeli strategy paper was published which outlined with remarkable candor a vast conspiracy to weaken, subjugate and ultimately destroy all of Israel’s military rivals. The document was called “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” authored by Oded Yinon, a prominent thinker in Israeli Likud circles. In the vein of the Ottoman millet system, Yinon envisioned the dissolution of Israel’s neighbors and a new Middle East made up of fractured and fragmented Arab/Muslim countries divided into multiple polities along ethnic and religious lines. In Yinon’s mind, the less unified the Arabs and Muslims are the better for Israel’s designs. Better yet, have the Arabs and Muslims fight each other over land and partition themselves into obscurity. Yinon suggests a way to accomplish this, primarily by instigating civil strife in the Arab/Muslim countries which will eventually lead to their dismemberment.
In the document, Yinon specifically recommended:
Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.
He later singled out Iraq as Israel’s most formidable enemy at the time, and outlined its downfall in these terms:
Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.
Yinon’s vision seems to be unfolding rapidly in Iraq which is today on the verge of partition with the Sunni extremists of ISIS seizing vast swaths of territory for their ‘caliphate’ and the Northern Kurds still battling for independence from Baghdad which is ruled by a Shia clique headed by Haider al-Abadi and Nour al-Maliki. Syria too looks to be falling victim to Yinon’s venomous whims as ISIS has wrested control of large chunks of Syrian territory and presently enforces its brutal sectarianism on the Eastern population of the country.
The themes and ideas in Yinon’s Machiavellian manifesto are still held dear today by the Likudnik rulers in Israel and their neocon patrons in the West. Pro-Israel neocons basically replicated Yinon’s proposals in a 1996 strategy paper intended as advice for Benjamin Netanyahu, although in less direct language. Their report titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” spoke of “removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq” as an “important Israeli strategic objective” that serves as a means of weakening Syria. The Clean Break authors advised that Israel should militarily engage Hezbollah, Syria and Iran along its Northern border. They go on to suggest air strikes on Syrian targets in Lebanon as well as inside Syria-proper. They also stipulate that, “Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.”
These neocon recommendations seem to be playing out today like a perfectly gauged game of chess. The Syria crisis has unveiled Israel’s plans for destabilizing the region to their benefit. At many points since the unrest in Syria began in 2011, Israel has conducted air strikes on Syrian military sites, just as the Clean Break criminals encouraged. In a January 2015 interview with Foreign Affairs magazine, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad made note of Israel’s incessant attacks against Syrian army installations during the conflict: “[Tel Aviv is] supporting the rebels in Syria. It’s very clear. Because whenever we make advances in some place, they make an attack in order to undermine the army.” Assad further described Israel as “al-Qaeda’s air force.”
Israel’s support of the Takfiri militants inside Syria goes beyond periodic air strikes in their favor. According to a 2014 UN report, Israel has been providing sanctuary and hospital care to thousands of anti-Assad terrorists, including those of ISIS and al-Nusra, and then dispatching them back into the fight. A Russia Today report on the issue headlined “UN details Israel helping Syrian rebels at Golan Heights” noted: “Israeli security forces have kept steady contacts with the Syrian rebels over the past 18 months, mainly treating wounded fighters but possibly supplying them with arms, UN observers at the Israeli-Syrian border reported.”
Israel’s gains in this situation are manifold. Tel Aviv has been using the fog of war to weaken its primary adversary in Damascus and consequently draw its other foes – Iran and Hezbollah – into the quandary, thereby diminishing their collective resolve to fight Israel itself. The Zionist regime not only views the Takfiris of ISIS and al-Nusra as a “lesser enemy,” but also as proxy mercenaries against Damascus, a strategy explicated in the neocons’ Clean Break document. In fact, Tel Aviv doesn’t view the Takfiris as much of a threat at all; a point that was validated by ISIS itself which declared that it is “not interested” in fighting Israel. “ISIS: Fighting ‘Infidels’ Takes Precedence Over Fighting Israel,” reads an August 2014 headline in Arutz Sheva, an Israeli news outlet.
The former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, substantiated all of this in a September 2013 interview with the Jerusalem Post. “’Bad guys’ backed by Iran are worse for Israel than ‘bad guys’ who are not supported by the Islamic Republic,” he told the Post, adding that the “greatest danger” to Israel is “the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.” Oren further remarked with glee about the total capitulation of the Gulf sheikhdoms – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – to Israel’s itinerary vis-à-vis Syria, Iran and the Palestinian issue, observing that “in the last 64 years there has probably never been a greater confluence of interest between us and several Gulf States. With these Gulf States we have agreements on Syria, on Egypt, on the Palestinian issue. We certainly have agreements on Iran. This is one of those opportunities presented by the Arab Spring.”
Roland Dumas, France’s former foreign minister, confirmed Israeli intrigue behind Syria’s internal woes. In a June 15, 2013, article for Global Research, journalist Gearóid Ó Colmáin quotes Dumas who told a French TV channel that the turmoil in Syria, which has cost the lives of more than 100,000 Syrians, was planned several years in advance. Dumas claimed that he met with British officials two years before the violence erupted in Damascus in 2011 and at the meeting they confessed to him “that they were organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria.” When asked for his support in the endeavor, Dumas declined, saying, “I’m French, that doesn’t interest me.’’ Dumas further pinpointed the architects of the madness as Israeli Zionists, suggesting that the Syria destabilization operation “goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned [by the Israeli regime].” Dumas noted that Syria’s anti-Israel stance sealed its fate in this respect and also revealed that a former Israeli prime minister once told him “we’ll try to get on with our neighbours but those who don’t agree with us will be destroyed.”
“Israel planned this war of annihilation years ago in accordance with the Yinon Plan, which advocates balkanization of all states that pose a threat to Israel,” writes Gearóid Ó Colmáin in the aforesaid piece. “The Zionist entity is using Britain and France to goad the reluctant Obama administration into sending more American troops to their death in Syria on behalf of Tel Aviv.”
Ó Colmáin argues that the West “are doing [Israel’s] bidding by attempting to drag [the United States] into another ruinous war so that Israel can get control of the Middle East’s energy reserves, eventually replacing the United States as the ruling state in the world. It has also been necessary for Tel Aviv to remain silent so as not to expose their role in the ‘revolutions’, given the fact that the Jihadist fanatics don’t realize they are fighting for Israel.”
ISIS: A Repository of Patsies for the False Flaggers
At long last, this brings us to the ‘second phase’ of the ISIS psyop: scaring Westerners into submission.
It’s no coincidence that the notorious belligerence of ISIS in its quest for a ‘caliphate’ aligns perfectly with the neocon agenda which aims to inculcate in the minds of the masses the myth of a ‘clash of civilizations’ between the West and Islam. In its official magazine, Dabiq, ISIS ideologues advanced a parallel attitude with the neocon desire for a civilizational conflict. Is that merely happenstance? Or has ISIS been manufactured by the neocons to serve as the ultimate boogeyman and straw man caricature of ‘Islamic radicalism’?
The godfather of neoconservatism, Leo Strauss, espoused a dogma of deception, stipulating that in order to corral society behind the wishes of an elite vanguard an ‘external enemy’ must be fashioned. This ‘enemy’ could be real, but enemies usually exist in the eye of the beholder and in the minds of those seeking opposition. Strauss made it clear that if this societal ‘enemy’ did not exist or was not formidable enough to generate an adequate amount of fear required to paralyze and manipulate the masses, then one should be invented or inflated and then advertised to the populace as a real, pressing danger.
For the neocons, this phantom nemesis forms the crux of their strategy of subjugation. Without it, the public would never consent to their lunatic foreign policies, nor would anyone feel threatened enough to willingly relinquish their freedoms in the name of security. This is what ISIS is all about.
As demonstrated earlier, ISIS was cultivated by our own governments to destabilize and ultimately overthrow various regimes in the Middle East and North Africa that fell astray of the Globalist-Zionist program. The Western media has purposely marketed the ISIS ‘brand’ across the globe, making it a household name. The Zionist globalists built up ISIS to do their bidding abroad, but despite media sensationalism the group is not nearly strong enough to pose any serious threat to Western countries. So while ISIS represents no legitimate military threat to the West, its global reputation for brutality and obscene violence is seen as a fantastic propaganda tool to frighten Western populations into consenting to the extirpation of their freedoms at home.
The Zionist globalists have put that carefully crafted ISIS image to work, fabricating a series of perfectly timed ‘terror events’ inside Western countries which have been used to curtail freedoms under the guise of ‘keeping us safe from the terrorists.’ What the gullible commoners don’t realize is that these ‘terrorists’ are controlled by our own governments and are being wielded against us to vindicate the construction of an Orwellian police state.
The string of ‘lone-wolf’ attacks that hit Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and now Copenhagen over the past five months since the West first ‘declared war’ on ISIS are all part of an organized neocon strategy of tension. The intelligence agencies of the West and Israel stand behind them all. In every case, the ‘terrorists’ had long histories of mental illness and/or frequent run-ins with the law; the standard rap-sheet of a patsy whose innumerable weaknesses are exploited by government agents to produce a type-cast ‘fall guy’ to play the part of the ‘wily gunman’ who ‘hates our freedoms.’ ISIS therefore in effect provides the false flag con artists who control our governments with an inexhaustible wellspring of patsies for their operations.
As the researcher Joshua Blakeney pointed out, “Some peasant in Yemen may be angry [enough at the West to want to harm it] but he [could] never [physically carry out] such an attack without it being made possible by the false-flag planners.” A ‘let it happen’ or a ‘made it happen’ scenario amounts to the same thing – without the connivance of the government in question there is no ‘attack’ to even discuss. Since ISIS is a ‘global’ phenomenon, according to our controlled media, authorities don’t even have to prove that these deranged individuals are even members of the group. All they have to say is that they were ‘inspired’ by the group’s message which can be accessed online, and that’s enough to indict them in the court of public opinion. Even if all that were true, it still wouldn’t eliminate potential state involvement, which usually comes in the form of equipping the dupe with the necessary armaments to execute the plot and preventing well-meaning police and intelligence people from intervening to stop it. These are the kinds of queries the West’s big media patently refuses to pursue, knowing full well that the state is almost always complicit with, and keen to exploit, whatever tragedy befalls their population.
All of the latest traumatic terror events in Western capitals have been instantly branded by lying, cynical politicians as attacks on ‘free speech’ and the ‘values of Western civilization,’ a familiar trope first trotted out by George W. Bush and his neocon puppet masters after the false flag attacks of 9/11.
However, what many are starting to realize is that whatever threat some mind controlled junkie might pose to our lives, our own governments are a markedly more dangerous menace to our liberties, well being and way of life. They prove this point every single day with a manifold of new freedom-busting laws that they pass using the comical excuse of protecting us from their own Frankenstein.
That’s the simple truth of the matter that the neocon false flaggers seek to suppress at all costs as they desperately hold up the façade of their artificial power which will inevitably collapse under its own weight.
Brandon Martinez is an independent writer and journalist from Canada who specializes in foreign policy issues, international affairs and 20th and 21st century history. He is the co-founder of Non-Aligned Media and the author of the 2014 books Grand Deceptions and Hidden History. Readers can contact him at martinezperspective[at]hotmail.com or visit his blog at http://martinezperspective.com
Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez
GAZA CITY – Hundreds of Palestinians were evacuated from their homes Sunday morning after Israeli authorities opened a number of dams near the border, flooding the Gaza Valley in the wake of a recent severe winter storm.
The Gaza Ministry of Interior said in a statement that civil defense services and teams from the Ministry of Public Works had evacuated more than 80 families from both sides of the Gaza Valley (Wadi Gaza) after their homes flooded as water levels reached more than three meters.
Gaza has experienced flooding in recent days amid a major storm that saw temperatures drop and frigid rain pour down.
The storm displaced dozens and caused hardship for tens of thousands, including many of the approximately 110,000 Palestinians left homeless by Israel’s assault over the summer.
The suffering is compounded by the fact that Israel has maintained a complete siege over Gaza for the last eight years, severely limiting electricity and the availability of fuel for generators. It has also prevented the displaced from rebuilding their homes, as construction materials are largely banned from entering.
Gaza civil defense services spokesman Muhammad al-Midana warned that further harm could be caused if Israel opens up more dams in the area, noting that water is currently flowing at a high speed from the Israel border through the valley and into the Mediterranean sea.
Evacuated families have been sent to shelters sponsored by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, in al-Bureij refugee camp and in al-Zahra neighborhood in the central Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Valley (Wadi Gaza) is a wetland located in the central Gaza Strip between al-Nuseirat refugee camp and al-Moghraqa. It is called HaBesor in Hebrew, and it flows from two streams — one whose source runs from near Beersheba, and the other from near Hebron.
Israeli dams on the river to collect rainwater have dried up the wetlands inside Gaza, and destroyed the only source of surface water in the area.
Locals have continued to use it to dispose of their waste for lack of other ways to do so, however, creating an environmental hazard.
This is not the first time Israeli authorities have opened the Gaza Valley dams.
In Dec. 2013, Israeli authorities also opened the dams amid heavy flooding in the Gaza Strip. The resulting floods damaged dozens of homes and forces many families in the area from their homes.
In 2010, the dams were opened as well, forcing 100 families from their homes. At the time civil defense services said that they had managed to save seven people who had been at risk of drowning.
Palestinian students from Gaza are still prevented by Israel from studying at West Bank universities, after an announcement this week to the contrary was retracted as a mistake.
On Wednesday, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced that a quota of 50 students would be permitted to exit Gaza “for the purpose of academic studies” in the West Bank. However, as related by NGO Gisha, the very same evening, COGAT clarified that there had been a “clerical error” in the relevant document, and that there would be no such permits.
The Israeli government has opposed Palestinians from Gaza studying in the West Bank on the grounds of ‘security’. The High Court of Justice has also rejected petitions by human rights groups on the matter, including one filed on behalf of five women studying gender, democracy and law.
In 2009, 21-year-old, Bethlehem University student Berlanty Azzam was arrested at a West Bank checkpoint and immediately returned to the Gaza Strip, after a solider noted Gaza City as the town of residence on her ID.
The ill-fated announcement was included on a list of various measures apparently prepared by Israel to “ease” restrictions. According to reports from COGAT and Palestinian officials, it would appear that the number of merchant permits will rise, as will the type and quantity of goods permitted to exit from Gaza for sale in the West Bank.
Back in November, two truckloads of wooden planks left Gaza for sale in the West Bank, the first time that wood from Gaza has been sold in the West Bank since the blockade was imposed in 2007. The same month, some truckloads of clothes, fish, and agricultural products made the same journey, again for the first time.
This is less indicative of Israeli authorities’ generosity but rather highlights the deception that is the ‘security’ rationale for the restrictions in the first place. Why were Gaza’s farmers allowed to send cucumbers to the West Bank on November 6, 2014 – but not before? Why won’t Israel lift restrictions on exports, save for piecemeal exceptions?
The continued refusal to allow Palestinian students from Gaza to study in West Bank universities is further evidence that Israel’s approach is one based on collective punishment. Worth remembering, the next time someone tries justifying yet another apartheid policy in the name of ‘security’.
The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) did not object to the appointment of new UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov, although he was described by Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, as “persona non grata” — not trusted by the Palestinians and nor qualified for the job.
The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously voted to appoint Bulgarian Mladenov, 42, to succeed Holland’s Robert Serry. He would also be the representative of the UN secretary general to the International Quartet (the UN, US, EU and Russia), and personal representative of the UN chief to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Although protocol allows the PLO the right to reject diplomatic representatives to the organisation, observers cannot understand why it accepted Mladenov. There is no convincing answer except a futile desire by the PLO to appease the UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, at a time when PLO diplomatic efforts are focused on the UN and its agencies.
Mladenov not only failed in a similar mission as UN envoy to Iraq and resigned, he is someone who describes himself — and is described by the leaders of the Israeli occupation — as “a good friend of Israel”. As Bulgarian foreign minister, Mladenov suggested a “military alliance” between Bulgaria and Israel. He has often spoken about his bias towards “Israel’s right to exist” and its right “to defend itself” against Palestinians resisting Israeli occupation. He even admitted to being a Free Mason, served Jewish billionaire George Soros, and publicly advocated the US’s “constructive chaos” policies in the Arab world. In fact, his Jewish origins may be the least controversial aspect of him.
Meanwhile, the occupation state does not hesitate in ignoring the UN, its resolutions and representatives, disregarding and even assassinating them when necessary. Most recently, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to “expel” Mladenov’s predecessor Serry as “persona non grata”. Shortly before that, William Schabas, the head of the UN commission investigating the occupation’s recent war on the Gaza Strip, resigned after Israel refused to cooperate with him or allow him to enter the country.
After the UN tolerated the assassination of its first envoy to Palestine, Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte in 1948, at the hands of the Zionist Stern Gang led by Yitzhak Shamir (who later became prime minister of the occupation state), Israel was emboldened to adopt a permanent policy of disregarding the UN without deterrence so far.
In fact, over the past two years the occupation state has carried out a proxy war against the UN. It has facilitated logistics, intelligence, firepower and medical assistance to allow the domination of militias fighting the Syrian regime on its side of the disengagement zone between the liberated and occupied Arab Syrian Golan. This compelled the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) to withdraw after its positions were attacked, dozens of its troops kidnapped and their weapons and equipment seized. Until today, the UN has not dared to rectify the situation, which resulted in the collapse of the UN-sponsored ceasefire and rules of engagement between Syria and Israel.
The Middle East is teeming with international peace envoys. The UN has one, so does the US, the EU, Russia, China and the Quartet. Their names change without anything on the ground in occupied Palestine changing. Except for expanding the occupation through settlements under the “peace” umbrella these envoys provide, without any hope that the international community they represent will be able to effect any real tangible change for the present and future of the Palestinian people on the ground.
So what can Mladenov do that his predecessors, the UN, the Quartet, the Arab League and others, couldn’t?
Khaled believes the real test, to remove Palestinian doubts about Mladenov’s role and mission, will be his position on the siege on Gaza and reconstruction there. However, Mladenov’s track record does not indicate there is cause for optimism. Nor does the track record of “UN special coordinators” since the creation of the position in 1994 and the subsequent expansion of its role, as well as the extensive history of choosing UN and US envoys of Jewish origins or related in the first degree to Jews, such as Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, John Kerry, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Quartet representative Tony Blair.
On 6 February, the secretaries general of the UN and Arab League issued a joint statement expressing “deep concern” about conditions in Gaza. They urged Arab and international donors to honour their financial pledges made at the Cairo Conference last October “as soon as possible”, in order to rebuild the Gaza Strip and end the siege there. A few days ago, James Rowley, UN coordinator for humanitarian affairs in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, sent out an “urgent call” for these commitments to be fulfilled and an “immediate” lift of the siege on Gaza, because he is “very concerned another conflict will break out” if not.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry described the statement by the Quartet on 8 February after it met in Munich, Germany, as “short of expectations” because it ignored “all the old-new and evolving truths” of the occupation state.
The Quartet also said it is “deeply concerned” about the “difficult conditions in Gaza where reconstruction needs to be quicker” and urged donors to “pay their financial pledges as soon as possible”. However, it linked this to encouraging both sides to “restart negotiations as soon as possible”.
Restarting talks “as soon as possible”, nonetheless, must await the outcome of general elections in Israel and the US. This means the Palestinian people must wait for another two years in the vain hope of reconstructing Gaza. It is obvious the occupation state is enjoying the luxury of time, making easy the occupation without resistance, as well as building settlements without deterrence.
Before handing over the reins to Mladenov, Serry described the failure of donors to pay their dues as “scandalous” and warned “if there is no progress in the coming months” — not two years — towards a two-state solution, “the reality will be a one state [solution]”: the single state of Israel. Former UN coordinator Terry Rod Larsen said in 2002, “the Palestinian patient is dying in the interim.”
Last December, Serry warned in his report to the Security Council that a war in Gaza “could re-ignite if conditions on the ground do not change” in the besieged Gaza Strip. It is clear that what Serry described as a “deadly diplomatic vacuum” coupled with the ongoing siege on rebuilding Gaza, are an explosive recipe in the besieged Gaza Strip, the outcome and ramifications of which are unpredictable.
The “scandal” of donors not paying their dues to rebuild Gaza, as Serry described it, under the pretext that the PLO government does not control the Gaza Strip, is a green light given by the international community to the occupation state to carry out another military assault on national resistance forces in Gaza.
The scandal of Arabs not paying their pledges at Arab summits to provide the PA with a financial “safety net” amounts to flagrant Arab pressure on the PLO to accept the Quartet’s proposal to restart talks with the occupation state “as soon as possible”.
This is Mladenov’s dual mission as the new UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process. PLO negotiators continue to wait for a breakthrough by “peace” envoys that are imposed on them and appointed by the US and the UN, although they represent the occupation state. Mladenov is the most recent. He will not change anything on the ground.
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
The Shurat Hadin legal centre has announced its intention to prosecute the Head of Hamas’s Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, as well as other Hamas officials on charges of obstructing air travel at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport during the most recent Israeli attack on Gaza.
Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the centre, which specialises in filing lawsuits against Israel’s opponents in American and Canadian courts, has called on all Americans harmed by the obstructed air travel due to the rockets fired at the airport by the Al-Qassam Brigades to contact the centre in order for a lawsuit to be filed in their names.
Channel 2 also quoted Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat Hadin, saying: “We are trying to find a way to put Khaled Meshaal on trial in the US. The war crimes that he conducted against Israel and its citizens can be heard also in other courts aside from the criminal court in the Hague.” She said that the suit is made possible by the fact that Meshaal holds Jordanian citizenship, and also because the Palestinian Authority (PA) has requested to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Darshan-Leitner noted that she is basing her argument on the American law that prohibits attacking American citizens when they are in international airports.
She added: “After we have all these figures we will turn to the American attorney general and demand that he put on trial Meshaal and those who were responsible for the rocket fire from Hamas.”
Stressing that this task should not be difficult because Hamas divided Gaza into regions and placed commanders in charge of each one, meaning it would be easy to determine who is responsible for the regions from which rockets were fired.
New testimonies from Palestinian minors have made their way out of Israeli prisons, speaking of the brutal beating and torture of youngsters conducted by Israeli soldiers and investigators.
Hiba Masalha, lawyer of the Palestinian Detainees Committee, who visited a number of children in HaSharon Israeli prison, said that the prisoners suffered incredibly savage treatment and brutality.
According to the PNN, 16-year-old prisoner Mohammed Zidani, from Silwan village, who was detained on the 10th of November, last year, and sentenced to 16 months of prison on January 19 of this year, said that he underwent electric shocks during his detention, for “confessions”.
Ziadni told Masalha that he was driven away from his home at 2 AM by private units and soldiers after they overwhelmingly raided his home, then dragged him to the Mascoubiya detention center, “room number 4″. The child said that, before they reached their destination, they stopped the military jeep bearing them, took him down to the street and started beating him so hard he suffered bruises and contusions all over his body.
In Mascoubiya room number 4, Mohammed said that he was forced to kneel and put his head between the legs, with his hands cuffed to his back and his eyes blindfolded. He was kept in this position for 4 hours. The investigation carried on for about 12 hours. He was given no food and was not allowed to go to bathroom.
Zidani said that during the investigation sessions that used to carry on until after midnight, the investigators beat him on his face and stomach.
During one of the sessions, Mohammed said, the investigator had “a stick shaped machine,” put it on his foot and pressed a button. Mohammed then felt the electric shock invading his body, and had unbearable pain in his foot. The investigator repeated the process three times in a row to “pull confessions out of him.” He started shouting of pain.
The testimony of another child prisoner, Kathem Annous (15) further demonstrates the torture children receive in Israeli jails.
Kathem, from Ras Al-Amoud, in occupied East Jerusalem, has been detained since November 3 of last year, in Hasharom prison. Similar to Mohammed Zidani’s case, he was driven from his home by Israeli soldiers and intelligence, and driven to a nearby settlement handcuffed and blindfolded, and kept for hours in the cold.
One soldier, using his iron-soled shoe, slammed Kathem’s foot, causing him contusions. He was then driven to Mascoubiya detention center.
During the investigation, Kathem was forced to kneel and point his head towards the wall, handcuffed. The investigation took 3 hours, in which Kathem was constantly beaten on his stomach and slapped on the face. He was kept in Mascoubiya for 12 days.
Annous said that he was also beaten by the Nahshon forces on his way to the court, and his handcuffs were very tightened. He mentioned that one time,a Nahshon member attacked him in the waiting room, and started violently knocking his head against the wall, for no reason whatsoever.
Anemic 14-year-old prisoner, Khaled Al-Sheikh, has been imprisoned for 55 days now, and hasnt been allowed to see his parents since then.
Child abuse in Israeli prisons is on the increase. According to Ahrar Center, there are about 300 children detained in Israeli prisons.