Zionist colonisers destroy the tools for self-sufficiency of Palestinians in Gaza
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Months after the last massive Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, thanks to the social and independent media, everyone has read news and seen pictures of the attacks from the Zionist regime against residential buildings, United Nations shelter-schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, churches and thousands of family homes.
However, little has been said about the almost complete destruction of Gaza’s industry and economy. As the Israeli Minister of Interior Eli Yishai said, the objective of the last operation was to “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all of its infrastructure.” One of the more terrible blows committed towards this end has been the total destruction of the Beit Hanoun industrial area.
The factories in this industrial area provided work for 25% to 30% of Gaza’s population. Among the destroyed factories are those for paper, construction materials, clothing, medical equipment, plastic products, food and livestock products.
The agricultural industry has also been wounded by Israel’s summer attacks on Gaza. The owner of the Afanah Company showed us the pictures of his 800 cows killed by Israeli attacks during the last war on Gaza. Each cow was going to feed 7 families during the Eid holiday. Besides losing all his cows, Israel also destroyed the four fridges of the company, which contained 400 tons of meat.
Abu Fakhri Abu Ghais, from Beit Hanoun, explained how during the last massacre Israel killed his 17 sheep, and all his sons’ sheep, they destroyed all his farming equipment, worth over 15,000 US dollars. Israeli forces also destroyed the pumps for extracting the groundwater and the 20 tons of reserve of wheat seeds that Abu Fakhri had stored for the current year. The occupation also demolished the cabling that brought electricity to his village, Abu Safiya. He and his family now live in a tent without water or electricity, as his home was also destroyed.
He and his family now live in a tent without water or electricity, as his home was also destroyed. Given the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip, the struggling government of Hamas informed him that they don’t know when they’ll be able to restore the power supply, as they do not have available wire that is long enough.
In a Bedouin village located at the North of Beit Lahia, Hassan Sharadkha invited the author and his companions for a cup of tea in the wood cabin that he has built next to the rubble of his home. He showed us the pictures of everything he lost during the last summer at the hands of the Zionist occupation forces: 32 dunums of fruit and olive trees, 27 sheep and their stable, 2 cows, a 200 chicken farm, a horse, the water pump and the car he had just bought.
His older son, an electric engineer, was made unemployed because the solar panel company he worked for has also been bombed.
These attacks – against factories, farms, farming equipment and homes – were not by chance or accidental. These attacks demonstrate once again that the target of the genocidal Israeli colonialism is the Palestinian people itself, and that the war that Israel has been waging the last 66 years, under cover of Europe and the US, is against a nation, Palestine, that they seek to wipe off the map.
Civilians living under Israeli occupation in the besieged Gaza Strip face a greater risk to their lives in the wake of a recent shift in Israel’s “military rules of engagement,” a new study warns.
In a report released on Tuesday, British NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) said theIsrael Defense Force’s (IDF) use of artillery on Palestinians is characterized by a“wide gap between public rhetoric and the reality on the ground.”
The think tank warned Gazan civilians face a greater risk of death from Israeli “artillery shelling” than they did prior to 2005.
As part of its research, AOAV examined regulations dictating where the IDF have deployed explosive weapons since 2005.
While Israel withdrew its ground troops from Gaza in 2005, the IDF’s air, land and sea blockade of the coastal strip remains steadfast.
AOAV’s research, ‘Under Fire’, examined suggestions made by Israeli officials that the IDF have greatly improved the protection of Palestinian civilians from the effects of its explosive artillery.
Israeli military experts often describe such artillery as ‘statistical weapons,’ according to AOAV. The think tank argues this terminology reflects the “inherent accuracy” of explosive weapons, which fire repeated rounds of “heavy, unguided shells.”
Because these explosive weapons lack accuracy, they require particularly robust rules to protect civilians from unintentional ‘collateral damage,’ AOAV says.
The think tank’s report reveals that rather than decreasing the risk of civilian deaths from Israeli explosive weapons, the IDF’s rules regulating such practices have been relaxed since its ground troops withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
As a result, Gazan civilians face a greater risk of dying from Israeli artillery shelling than they did nine years ago, AOAV said.
Director of policy at AOAV, Iain Overton, stressed unguided artillery shells are a “relic of a bygone day.”
He said there is no reason to prevent the IDF from scrapping its use of such dangerous and destructive weaponry in civilian populated areas.
The think tank’s research found 2014 was characterized by the heaviest use of “high-explosive artillery shells” in eight years.
Despite Israel’s investment in alternatives to the artillery it traditionally used, a minimum of 34,000 “unguided shells” were fired into Gaza last year, AOAV said.
This marks an increase on the number of unguided artillery shells launched in any IDF military campaign since the Lebanon War of 2006, it added.
The think tank’s report revealed the IDF launched almost five and a half times as many “high explosive artillery shells” during its military assault on Gaza in 2014 as it did during its military offensive against Gaza in 2008/09.
It added the IDF has dramatically reduced the distance that regulates how close artillery shells can land to residential homes in recent years. While this distance stood at 300 meters in 2005, the IDF shortened this limit to 100 meters in 2006.
AOAV said this policy shift puts civilians at greater risk because the estimated “casualty-producing radius of a 155mm artillery shell is close to 300 meters.”
The think tank’s report concluded the only policy to have yielded a clear improvement in the rate of civilian casualties in Gaza was a temporary suspension on artillery shelling implemented in December 2006. After 2008, however, this measure was scrapped.
“In recent years the IDF has shifted away from using other devastating weapons like multiple rocket launchers or globally-banned cluster bombs,” Robert Perkins, Senior Researcher at AOAV, said.
“It doesn’t seem like this shift has extended to unguided heavy artillery, but these wide-area effect weapons have no place in an urban populated area, where their effects cannot be controlled.”
A UN report published last week found more Palestinian civilians died as a result of the conflict with Israel in 2014 than in any year since 1967.
The report, published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), claimed Israel’s Operation Protective Edge resulted in the death of over 2,220 Palestinians, 1,492 of whom were civilians.
In what the OCHA described as the “worst escalation of hostilities” since the Six-Day War in 1967, 71 Israelis were also killed, 66 of whom were soldiers.
Anas Qdeh, 21, had no idea that waving the Palestinian flag and flashing the V sign is a crime for which he will be shot by the Israeli Occupation forces (IOF) which fired explosive bullets directly at his legs while he was with scores of citizens about 10 meters away from the security fence separating Khan Younis from 1948 occupied lands.
We will never give up on our land
Qdeh told the PIC reporter: “On Friday March 20, I headed to our land east of al-Sanati in Greater Abasan where many youths gather every Friday to stress that this is our land and that we will never give up on it even if Israel isolated it.
The IOF imposed a buffer zone adjacent to the security fence along the borderline with the Gaza Strip stretching for distances ranging from 300-700 meters deep into the Strip and shoots whoever enters it.
Qdeh clarified the circumstances of his injury saying: “One of my friends wanted to take a picture of me waving the Palestinian flag with the V sign while we were in our land which the IOF is preventing us from reaching in Greater Abasan east of Khan Younis. However, the IOF soldiers started shooting at us and I was hit with an explosive bullet.”
The bullet hit one of the youth’s legs, and the shrapnel scattered to hit his other leg and his cousin Fawzi Qdeh who was nearby. Anas lied on the ground profusely bleeding before he was rushed to hospital to be urgently treated.
His cousin Fawzi Qdeh, 23, said with a smile drawn on his face that a piece of shrapnel is still lodged in his left shoulder and doctors told him that it is difficult to extract it at this stage.
He clarified that he was rearing his goats in al-Santai lush fields, and when he saw the youths gathering and chanting he joined them to see what was going on and to take photos.
Every Friday, scores of Palestinians spontaneously gather near the security fence waving flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans.
GAZA CITY – The Hamas movement on Friday rejected a report by human rights group Amnesty International accusing the group of war crimes during last summer’s war with Israel.
While the report claims that Hamas killed both Israeli and Palestinian civilians using indiscriminate projectiles, Hamas criticized the findings as being unbalanced, adopting “the Israeli version of the story.”
In a statement, the group said that it is the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against both the ongoing Israeli occupation and Israeli military offenses.
“War crimes have clear specifications, according to the Rome Statute, that do not in any way apply to the Palestinian resistance, which was, is, and will defend its people.”
The report released by Amnesty International on Thursday said that Palestinian rocket fire during the 2014 summer war had killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than inside Israel.
The report said rocket attacks had killed six civilians inside Israel, including a child, but that other rockets aimed at Israel had fallen short inside Gaza, killing at least 13 civilians, 11 of them children.
It referred to one particular incident on July 28 in which 13 people were killed in deadly blast inside the beach-side Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.
Hamas took issue with Amnesty’s approach to the report, arguing that the rights group relied solely on Israeli information to compile the report, therefore missing a balanced review as Israel did not allow international investigation committees into Gaza.
Last summer’s war between Palestinian militant groups and Israel left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian and UN officials. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed. Over 100,000 Gazans lost their homes, and large swathes of the coastal territory were left in ruins.
Hamas said that Amnesty International’s report “purposely turned facts around to justify Israel’s crimes against humanity,” and called upon rights institutions to carry out impartial investigations into Israeli forces’ war crimes.
Israel’s human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory came under renewed attack by senior UN officials on Monday.
Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 Makarim Wibisono heavily criticised Israel’s assault on Gaza last year.
“The ferocity of destruction and high proportion of civilian lives lost in Gaza cast serious doubts over Israel’s adherence to international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack.”
Wibisono described the “lack of respect for human rights” as having “permeated almost every aspect of the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza”, touching upon Israel’s “excessive use of force”, as well as settlement construction, threats of “forcible transfer”, and more.
The UN official also noted that “treatment of Palestinians, including children in Israeli detention, was an issue of grave concern” and that Israel “had done too little to follow up on the report [two years ago] by the United Nations Children’s Fund” on the ill-treatment of children in military detention.
The Council was also presented with a report of the Secretary-General on Israeli settlements in the OPT and Syrian Golan, which he said continued to expand.
The Secretary-General described how “Israeli settlements and acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians continue to underpin a broad spectrum of human rights violations against Palestinians.”
The report urged Israel to “cease all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan, and implement relevant United Nations resolutions.”
A second Secretary-General report on the broader human rights situation in the OPT, covering the period from May 2013 to October 2014, further noted that settlements “undermine Palestinian territorial integrity, contrary to international law, and Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”
Obstacles to peace and to Palestinians’ enjoyment of their human rights, including their right to self-determination, must be removed. That means the ending and reversal of all settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the full lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the ending of the occupation of Palestinian land.
Mary McGowan Davis, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, gave the Council an oral update on the progression of the Commission. Davis said that Israel had not responded to a request for access, and, that the written report would be presented in June.
Israeli and American representatives were conspicuously absent from the UN Human Rights Council session on the Palestinian territories on Monday. The session aimed to look into the Gaza conflict which killed 2,200 people in 50 days in 2014.
“I note the representative of Israel is not present,” Council President Joachim Ruecher said as the session kicked off Monday in Geneva.
Tel Aviv refused to comment as to why its representatives did not take part.
The US, however, said that one of the points on the UN session agenda – concerning human rights violations against the Palestinians – lacked legitimacy.
“Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year when we also refrained from speaking. The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it,” Keith Harper, US ambassador to the Council, said in a statement.
He added that the United States remains “deeply troubled” by the item directed against Israel “and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item. No other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it.”
The Monday session was initially scheduled to discuss the report on the 50-day war in Gaza last year, but the incoming United Nations Human Rights Council’s chairperson, Mary McGowan Davis, said investigators needed more time to finish their report on the conflict, as Israel impeded access to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
“The commission has done its utmost to obtain access to Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. We would very much have liked to meet face to face with victims and the authorities in these places,” she said.
Davis asked for a delay until June for the commission to complete its report, due to late-breaking testimonies from witnesses and changes in leadership.
Mary McGowan Davis – a former New York State Supreme Court Justice – replaced William Schabas, a Canadian international law expert, as the Council’s chairperson after Schabas quit last month under Israeli pressure. Israel had doubts about his objectiveness, as he had prepared a legal opinion for the Palestine Liberation Organization while serving as a law professor in 2012.
Meanwhile, despite Schabas’ resignation, Israel continues to accuse the commission of bias against the Jewish state. Three years ago, Tel Aviv cut all ties with the Council after it began checks on how Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories could be violating human rights. Relations were partially restored last year.
Israel has been severely criticized for its political decisions amid the 2014 war in Gaza, which claimed the lives of more than 2,140 Palestinians – most of them civilians – and over 70 Israelis, most of whom were soldiers. The conflict ended with a truce between Israel and Hamas on August 26.
“The ferocity of destruction and high proportion of civilian lives lost in Gaza cast serious doubts over Israel’s adherence to international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack,” Makarim Wibisono, special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, told the Council. Meanwhile, armed Palestinian groups were also accused of impunity against civilians and targeting Israeli civilians to inspire aggression from Tel Aviv.
“The actions of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including indiscriminate rocket fire into civilian neighborhoods in Israel, firing from densely-populated areas, locating military objects in civilian buildings, and the execution of suspected collaborators, also constitute clear violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law,” Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said in remarks published on the UN’s website on Monday.
Relations between the Obama administration and Israel appeared to have cooled down after Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the US Congress with a speech criticizing Washington’s nuke talks with Iran. Netanyahu’s pre-election promise not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state did not help to improve the situation. After being re-elected, the PM tried to step back and said he still supported the concept of “two states.” However, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called his position “cynical” and accused him of “divisive election day tactics.”
Today, the twelfth anniversary of our daughter and sister Rachel’s stand and death in Gaza, we find ourselves back where our journey for accountability in her case began – in Washington DC. We have come for meetings at the Department of State and in Congress and, also, to join our colleagues in pursuit of a just peace in Israel/Palestine at the national meeting of Jewish Voice for Peace.
Rachel was crushed to death March 16, 2003, by an Israeli military, US-funded, Caterpillar D9R bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza, while nonviolently protesting the impending demolition of the home of a Palestinian family. This was one of thousands of homes eventually destroyed in Gaza in clearing demolitions, described in the 2004 Human Rights Watch Report, Razing Rafah.
The U.S. Department of State reported that on March 17, 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President Bush that the Israeli Government would undertake a “thorough, credible, and transparent” investigation into Rachel’s killing and report the results to the United States. On March 19, 2003, in a U.S. Department of State press briefing, Richard Boucher said in reference to Rachel, “When we have the death of an American citizen, we want to see it fully investigated. That is one of our key responsibilities overseas, is to look after the welfare of American citizens and to find out what happened in situations like these.”
Through tenures of both the Bush and Obama administrations, high level Department of State officials have continued to call for Israeli investigation in Rachel’s case. During our twelve year journey for accountability, we met with Lawrence B. Wilkerson (Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell), William Burns (then Under Secretary of State) and Antony Blinken (then Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden) – all who have acknowledged lack of an adequate response from the Israeli Government in Rachel’s case.
In a letter to our family in 2008, Michelle Bernier-Toth, U.S. Department of State’s Managing Director of Overseas Citizens Services, wrote, “We have consistently requested that the Government of Israel conduct a full and transparent investigation into Rachel’s death. Our requests have gone unanswered or ignored.”
In March 2005, at the suggestion of the Department of State and to preserve our legal options, our family initiated a civil lawsuit against the State of Israel and Ministry of Defense. After a lengthy Israeli court process, in February of this year, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that said Rachel was killed in a “war activity” for which the state bears no liability under Israeli law. In response, Human Rights Watch wrote,
“The ruling flies in the face of the laws of armed conflict…The ruling grants immunity in civil law to Israeli forces for harming civilians based merely on the determination that the forces were engaged in ‘wartime activity,’ without assessing whether that activity violated the laws of armed conflict, which require parties to the conflict at all times to take all feasible precautions to spare civilian life.”
Our family’s legal options in Israel are nearly exhausted, but our search for justice for Rachel goes forward. Back in Washington DC, we have come full circle. We ask again that U.S. officials address their responsibility to U.S. citizens and to all civilians whose lives are impacted and cut short by military actions supported with U.S. taxpayer funding. We ask that they determine what to do when a promise from a key ally’s head of state to our own goes unfulfilled. March 16, 2003, was the very worst day of our lives. Our family deserves a clear and truthful explanation for how what happened to Rachel that day could occur, and to know there is some consequence to those responsible. Rachel deserves this.
She wrote, “This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop.”
The failure of the Israeli court system to hold its soldiers, officers, and government accountable does not represent a failure on our part. Rachel, herself, went to Rafah looking for justice – a forward looking justice in which all people in the region would enjoy the freedoms, rights, opportunities, and obligations that we each demand for ourselves. The facts uncovered in our legal effort in Israel, and the clear evidence of the Israeli court’s complicity in the occupation revealed in the outcome, lay important legal groundwork for the future. As we look back at Selma fifty years ago and Ferguson today, we realize that our own civil rights struggle is not won in a single march or court case. It is ongoing. As our family continues our journey for justice, we thank those across the U.S., the world, and in Palestine and Israel who travel with us. Together, we will find justice for Rachel – both the justice she deserves and the justice for which she stood.
“Last July, shortly after the outbreak of war in Gaza, President Barack Obama declared that “Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas.” To demonstrate the general moral applicability of this position, he said that “no country can accept rocket [sic] fired indiscriminately at citizens.” Obama’s claims provided ideological cover for Israel to carry out wholesale slaughter over the next six weeks in which nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed.
Obama also conveniently turned reality on its head by ignoring the fact that it was Israel that was responsible for nearly three times as many cease fire violations as Hamas since December 2012. Israel’s violations of the 2012 cease fire caused the deaths of 18 people, while Palestinian violations caused none. Since the end of the 51-day war in August 2014, Israel predictably has gone on violating the most recent cease fire even more brazenly and with complete impunity.
The latest cease fire agreement stipulated that Hamas and other groups in Gaza would stop rocket attacks, while Israel would stop all military action. As with past truces, Hamas has observed the conditions. On the rare occasions that individuals or groups have fired rockets from Gaza, Hamas has arrested them. (See also here and here.)
Israel, on the other hand, has failed to live up to its end of the bargain. This is consistent with past practice. Israel has continued its illegal siege on the Gaza strip, while indiscriminately harassing and shooting at the local population. Fishermen and farmers, who are trying to subsist amid dire economic conditions, have born the brunt of the aggression.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights documented 18 instances of Israeli soldiers firing on Palestinian fishermen operating within internationally recognized Palestinian waters in September 2014 alone.
By December, Humanity for Palestine reported 94 total cease fire violations since the August truce. In addition to the many attacks on fishermen, Israeli border guards targeted “protesters;” “fired sporadically at Palestinian homes and agricultural property with machine guns and ‘flashbang’ grenades;” and “seriously injured” a teenager who was shot near the Kerem Shalom crossing.
The first months of 2015 have seen more of the same. According to International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC ):
- On February 25, “Israeli forces opened fire at farmers in the central Gaza Strip.” The previous day, farmers near Khan Younis had been fired on. Two days prior farmers near Rafah were fired on.
- On February 27, Israeli forces “opened gunfire on Palestinian houses in the Central Gaza strip.”
- On March 2, “Israeli gunboats again opened fire … towards fishermen’s boats in the Gaza strip.” The Israeli forces reportedly “chased some fishing boats off the coast.”
- On March 7, fisherman Tawfiq Abu Ryala, 34, was killed when he was shot in the abdomen by Israeli navy ships. Several attacks in previous days were reported in which Palestinian fishermen were injured. “All took place while the boats were in Palestinian territorial waters.”
- On March 11, “several armored military vehicles and bulldozers carried out … a limited invasion into an area east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, and bulldozed farmlands.”
On March 13, Palestine News Network reported that “Israeli Soldiers Open Fire on Palestinian Lands and Farmers East of Khan Younis Again.” The articles states that “witnesses reported that the Israeli soldiers in the borders towers opened their guns [sic] fire on the the [sic] shepherds and farmers near the security line east of Al Tuffah neighborhood east of Khan Younis.”
The vast majority of the rampant Israeli cease fire violations are not reported by the American and the Western press. When they are, the Israeli military is given the opportunity to provide self-serving rationalizations which serve as the authoritative account of what transpired.
When a fisherman was killed on March 7, a Reuters article cites an Israeli military spokesperson claiming that “four vessels had strayed from the fishing zone and that the Israeli army opened fire after the boats did not heed calls to halt.” Of course, the fisherman is not able to tell his side of the story because the organization Reuters quotes killed him.
There is no mention in the article of any of the multiple attacks on Palestinian fishermen that happen routinely in Gaza. In many similar shootings, surviving victims and witnesses can attest that fishermen are within the agreed-upon six-mile nautical limit, and certainly well within the 20-mile limit guaranteed by the Oslo accords.
In a December article in the New York Times, Isabel Kershner writes that “Retaliating for a rocket fired into Israel on Friday, the Israeli military said it carried out an airstrike on a Hamas site in southern Gaza.” She begins the sentence by stating it is Israel retaliating against Palestinian actions. Whoever fired the rocket presumably was not “retaliating” for the dozens of Israeli military cease fire violations over the previous months, but was implicitly initiating aggression.
More importantly than this biased framing of the narrative, Kershner buries the lead at the bottom of the story: “Also on Friday, six Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire near the border fence in northern Gaza.” She obsequiously follows this statement with Israeli military rationalizations that “soldiers first fired into the air to try to disperse protesters approaching the fence then fired at the legs of some of them.”
Someone who commits a violent action is obviously not an impartial source for an honest account of the facts. Would a journalist report on a shooting by only repeating the side of the suspect who claims self-defense?
Six months after repeated, documented Israeli breaches of the cease fire agreement – without any by Hamas – New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof claimed in an Op-Ed that “Hamas provokes Israel.” He provides no evidence for this assertion. As the record clearly shows, Kristof has it backwards.
If no country can accept rockets fired at its population, then surely neither can they accept M16s fired at them. Or tanks and bulldozers invading their land. But perhaps Obama was deliberate in choosing his words. He stated that no country can accept rockets “fired indiscriminately at citizens (italics mine).”
Since Palestinians live under Israeli sovereignty but are denied citizenship, they are not technically covered by Obama’s moral truism. But assuming what he says should apply to all people - even those who are politically subjugated by racist regimes – Obama’s words would apply equally to Palestinians.
But when asked by a reporter whether Palestinians in Gaza have the right to defend themselves, an Obama administration spokesperson denied Palestinians this right. She did not explicitly say so, but by evading and refusing to respond to a simple yes or no question, she gave the equivalent of a direct denial. “I think – I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” she said. After the reporter restated his crystal-clear question, she replied “What are you specifically referring to? Is there a specific event or a specific occurrence?”
In the same way that omission of material facts may constitute fraud, refusing to answer a question about whether a person enjoys a right constitutes a direct refusal to recognize that right.
Obama did not only pervert the issue of the right to self-defense by falsely pretending it was a moral truism that he clearly and demonstrably does not extend to Palestinians, he also misrepresents the applicability of self-defense to Israel in the first place.
As Noura Erakat explained in her July 2014 article “No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense in International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Israel is “distorting/reinterpreting international law to justify its use of militarized force in order to protect its colonial authority.” Obama willingly enables Israel’s lawless actions by accepting their rewriting of international law to justify their aggression.
What Obama is really saying when he talks about self-defense is that as the leader of one rogue nation, he supports the right of his rogue client state to violate the rule of law and make fraudulent claims that are neither morally nor legally justified.
As John Quigley explains in The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense, failing to challenge Israel’s bogus claims of self-defense in the 1967 war – as the United States has done by providing a diplomatic shield, vetoing more than 40 U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Israel – has had disastrous consequences for Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the system of international law in general.
“The flawed perception of the June 1967 war serves to perpetuate conflict in the Middle East. It also serves to promote the expansion of the concept of self-defense and thereby to erode the prohibition against the use of force,” Quigley writes.
The United States government under the Obama administration continues to carry this even further. Undoubtedly the situation will only get worse in the future. Last month in Haaretz, Gideon Levy wrote that there will inevitably be another war in Gaza.
“Israel knows this war will break out, it also knows why – and it’s galloping toward it blindfolded, as though it were a cyclical ritual, a periodical ceremony or a natural disaster that cannot be avoided. Here and there one even perceives enthusiasm,” Levy writes.
This will mean more death, more destruction, and more Palestinian lives destroyed as the world looks on and does nothing. Sadly Levy is right. When the next war comes and Israel succeeds in baiting Hamas to start firing rockets into Israel, all the talk will be about Israel’s right to defend itself. Obama (or the next American President) will repeat the same charade. He will frame the narrative in terms of Israel’s victimization and Israel’s rights, while denying this treatment to the Palestinians.
The media and the public will uncritically support the position of American and Israeli power. Thousands of Palestinians will be indiscriminately killed, but not because Israel is defending itself. Palestinians will be killed because the U.S. government refuses to protect them from a belligerent and aggressive regime, and refuses even to recognize their right to protect themselves.
The World Ignores the Crisis in Gaza—So Another Gaza Freedom Flotilla is Ready to Sail in First Half of 2015
With the 51 day Israeli attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014 that killed over 2,200, wounded 11,000, destroyed 20,000 homes and displaced 500,000, the closing to humanitarian organizations of the border with Gaza by the Egyptian government, continuing Israeli attacks on fishermen and others, and the lack of international aid through UNWRA for the rebuilding of Gaza, the international Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition has decided to again challenge Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza in an effort to gain publicity for the critical necessity of ending the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the isolation of the people of Gaza.
UNRWA, the main U.N. aid agency in the Gaza Strip has stated that a lack of international funding forced it to suspend grants to tens of thousands of Palestinians for repairs to homes damaged in last summer’s war.
“People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble, children have died of hypothermia,” Robert Turner, Gaza director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said in a statement. He said UNRWA received only $135 million of the $720 million pledged by donors to its cash assistance program for 96,000 refugee families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the 50-day conflict between the Hamas government and Israel. Little of the total $5.4 billion pledged for Gaza’s reconstruction at a Cairo conference of international donors in October 2014 has reached the Gaza, and thousands of Palestinians have been sheltering in tents near destroyed homes.
“Thousands more have been living in damaged buildings, using plastic sheeting to try to keep out the rain. Around 20,000 displaced are still being housed in U.N.-run schools.”
While we recognize that funds are needed to rebuild Gaza, we feel that the publicity from another flotilla will help gain attention to the plight of the people of Gaza in ways that other initiatives may not. Indeed, governments are forced to react to the flotillas as evidenced through the diplomatic cables obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights from the U.S. Department of State to U.S. missions in the Middle East region.
At a December, 2014 meeting, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition decided to sail a 3-ship flotilla to challenge the blockade in the first half of 2015. Twenty passengers will be aboard each of the 3 ships for a total of 60 passengers. The coalition will seek representatives from 30 countries with each country having two passengers. The U.S.- Palestinian Solidarity community will participate in Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 and has a target of $20,000 as their part for renovation expenses and to be able to have two persons as the U.S. delegates.
Nonviolence International of Washington, DC, the 501(c)(3) for U.S. contributions to Gaza’s Ark, is the 501(c)(3) organization. Please make an online contribution here and indicate “Gaza’s Ark/Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3” in the Please designate this gift for a specific purpose “Designation Code” box. Checks payable to “Nonviolence International” (with Gaza’s Ark/Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 in the memo line) may be mailed to:
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GAZA CITY – Israeli naval forces shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman, and arrested two others while they were sailing in small fishing boats off the coast south of Gaza City early Saturday morning.
Speaker of the union of Gaza fishermen Nizar Ayyash told Ma’an that Israeli gunboats opened machine gun fire at a group of Palestinian fishermen. Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra confirmed to Ma’an that Tawfiq Abu Riyala died from injuries sustained by the fire.
Ayyash added that Israeli navy then seized two fishing boats and took them to unknown destination.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an that after four vessels deviated from the fishing zone this morning, Israeli forces ordered the vessels to halt. Warning shots were fired towards the engines of the vessels, and two hits were confirmed. Two of the vessels were detained by Israeli forces, the other two turning back.
The spokeswoman added that every deviation by fishing boats from the fishing zone is perceived by Israeli forces as a security threat, citing an incident last month in which a vessel was caught outside of the fishing zone with arms intended for Hamas.
The Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militant groups stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.
Since then, there have been widespread reports that Israeli forces have routinely opened fire at fishermen within those new limits, and the zone has not been expanded.
The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that since the ceasefire agreement Israeli forces have detained 49 Palestinian fishermen, injured 17, confiscated 12 fishing boats and damaged fishing tools in nine other incidents.
Recent targeting of Gazan fishermen comes at a time when economic growth in the coastal enclave is near frozen and 80 percent of the population is food insecure, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
More than 350 Israeli soldiers who took part in last summer’s military onslaught on the Gaza Strip have since received psychiatric counseling for post-traumatic stress, an Israeli report has revealed.
The report, published Wednesday in the Israel Today newspaper said that soldiers had undergone treatment for symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress, including disorientation, low productivity and recurring nightmares.
The newspaper quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the number of soldiers receiving psychiatric treatment following last summer’s onslaught on Gaza was higher than those who did so following previous operations.
For 51 days this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea. More than 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, were killed and 10,626 injured during unrelenting Israeli attacks on the besieged strip this past summer.
According to the UN, the Israeli military killed at least 495 Palestinian children in Gaza during “Operation Protective Edge.” The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights puts the number at 518, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights puts it at 519.
All three figures exceed the total number of Israelis, civilians and soldiers, killed by Palestinians in the last decade.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 3,106 Palestinian children were injured in the seven- week assault. The UN estimates that 1,000 children will suffer a permanent disability as a result of their injury.
Moreover, the UN said as many as 1,500 children have been orphaned by Israeli attacks that killed their parents, while 6,000 children will have a parent with a lifelong disability.
The besieged enclave has also seen widespread destruction of its infrastructure, reaching levels of devastation that UN chief Ban Ki Moon called “beyond description” in a visit to the Strip on October 14.
Some 100,000 people remain displaced while 450,000 don’t have access to running water.
Meanwhile, the official, who holds a senior position in the Israeli military’s psychiatric department, said that “hundreds” of soldiers have sought psychiatric treatment for “severe stress.”
He said that 80 percent of the soldiers to have undergone treatment had since been “fully rehabilitated” and returned to service.
Treatment was carried out at southern Israel’s Re’im military base where affected soldiers received up to eight hours of treatment each day, the official was quoted as saying.
A report published in January revealed that at least 10 Israeli soldiers committed suicide in 2014, including four who took part in the onslaught on the Gaza Strip.
In September, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the three troops from the elite Golani Brigade had suffered psychological problems in connection to their participation in the recent offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Also in September, 43 reservists and former members of Israel’s elite army intelligence unit have announced in a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they refuse to serve in the military, slamming “abuses” of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, annexed East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri
Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday denounced as “shocking” an Egyptian court decision to designate the movement a “terrorist organisation”.”Labeling Hamas as a terrorist organisation is a dangerous decision that represents a shift in Egyptian-Palestinian relations,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Anadolu Agency.
“Unfortunately, the situation has been turned upside down: Israel the enemy has become a friend of Egypt while Hamas – which is an integral part of the Palestinian people – has become a terrorist,” Abu Zuhri said.
The spokesman, however, said that Hamas will not be affected by the Egyptian court verdict as it came to “export Egypt’s domestic problems.”
Earlier Saturday, an Egyptian court designated Hamas as a “terrorist” group over claims that the group had carried out terrorist attacks in Egypt through tunnels linking the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.
In March 2014, the same court outlawed Hamas’ activities in Egypt and confiscated its offices.
The court had said that the ban would be temporary until another court – which is trying ousted President Mohamed Morsi for alleged “collaboration” with Hamas to carry out “hostile” acts in Egypt – delivers its final verdict.
Last month, the same court declared the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, a terrorist organisation.
A number of Hamas members have been among the defendants in two trials that Morsi – a Muslim Brotherhood leader – currently faces for alleged espionage and jailbreak.
Egypt’s media has blamed Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood, for a series of deadly attacks on security forces since Morsi’s ouster. Hamas has consistently denied the allegations.