Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated in a press release on Tuesday that the Israeli ban measure against the Islamic Movement targets the Arab presence in the 1948 occupied territories.
“The Israeli decision is aimed at punishing the Islamic Movement and preventing it from continuing its role in protecting the Aqsa Mosque,” Abu Zuhri added, calling the decision as “a badge of honor” to the Islamic Movement.
The Hamas spokesman called on the international community to intervene to curb such Israeli racist measures against the Palestinians.
The Israeli security cabinet on Tuesday declared the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands an unlawful organization, effectively outlawing the group led by Sheikh Ra’ed Salah.
Following the decision, police forces raided over a dozen of the group’s offices in the 1948 occupied lands, seizing computers, files and funds.
The Israeli occupation authority also froze its bank accounts and said that 17 organizations affiliated with the Movement were served with orders to close down.
The police also called in several of the Movement’s officials for questioning, including Sheikh Salah, his deputy Sheikh Kamal Khatib, and the organization’s director of Jerusalem and Aqsa Mosque affairs, Salman Abu Ahmad.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah received telephone calls from Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal and his deputy Ismail Haniyeh expressing their condemnation of the terrorist bombings in Burj el-Barajneh.
Meshaal offered his condolences on the martyrdom of around 43 people, and stressed “the sympathy of the Palestinian people with the Lebanese and their support in the face of this painful tragedy.”
Meshaal and Haniyeh assured that the Palestinians who were allegedly involved in the blast were not refugees in Lebanon, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday. Meshaal and Hanieh had informed the Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri that the names mentioned by the ISIL terrorists were not of refugees, but of individuals who had died in Syria over two years ago.
The so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, alleging it was executed by two Palestinians and a Syrian.
The Lebanese Army said two men wearing suicide vests carried out the attacks. A military statement added that the body of a third suicide attacker who had failed to blow himself up was found at the scene of the second blast.
Palestinian political Islamists Hamas have demanded Britain apologize for agreeing to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine in 1917, a move experts say had “profound and pervasive” consequences for those who lived there.
Hamas released its statement Monday to coincide with the 98th anniversary of the declaration. It claimed the 1917 agreement between then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour and influential Jewish community leader Baron Walter Rothschild is now null and void.
The original declaration, which aimed to combine two apparently contradictory aims, read: “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The Israeli News Network reports Hamas wants Britain to apologize for the declaration, retract it and admit it was a mistake.
“The path of our people towards freedom, return and liberation goes like the path of other peoples who were under occupation – through struggle by all methods and means, first and foremost an armed struggle,” the statement said.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Oxford University history professor Avi Shlaim said the Balfour agreement continued to resonate throughout the region and beyond.
“Its consequences were both profound and pervasive, and its impact on the subsequent history of the Middle East was nothing less than revolutionary,” he said.
“It completely transformed the position of the fledgling Zionist movement vis-à-vis the Arabs of Palestine, and it provided a protective umbrella that enabled the Zionists to proceed steadily towards their ultimate goal of establishing an independent Jewish state in Palestine.”
The declaration’s impact was out of proportion to its size. It took the form of a mere letter from one party to another and yet, Shlaim says, defines the state of the Middle East to this day.
“Rarely in the annals of the British Empire has such a short document produced such far-reaching consequences,” he said.
A number of former British colonies have recently called for relations between themselves and the former imperial power to be redressed.
In September, Barbadian historian Sir Hilary Beckles reminded David Cameron that the prime minister’s own family was enriched by slavery in the Caribbean colonies.
In July, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor debated Britain’s past occupation of India at an Oxford Union debate.
“Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. We paid for our own oppression. It’s a bit rich to oppress, maim, kill, torture and repress and then celebrate democracy at the end of it,” Tharoor said at the debate.
Rogue states make their own rules, mindless of inviolable international laws, norms and standards. On October 19, Israel’s repressive counter-terrorism bill passed its 2nd and 3rd readings – criminalizing legitimate resistance as terrorism, expanding regime authority to counter it extrajudicially.
Any activity can now be called terrorism or terrorist-related, innocent Palestinians subject to possible longterm imprisonment. Charity officials providing aid to anyone linked to or associated with Hamas or legitimate resistance groups can be arrested, charged and prosecuted.
Children wearing clothing bearing the Hamas name face arrest, detention, and grueling interrogations amounting to torture. The law authorizes Big Brother surveillance, more intrusive than already, replicating how the NSA operates, monitoring all phone and online communications.
Israeli Law Professor Yael Berda called the measure “scary and undemocratic…criminalizing an entire population for identifying with an organization that Israel considers terrorist (true or false)” – first introduced in 2011, redrafted several times, never brought to 2nd and 3rd readings until now, required for passage.
It expands the definition of terrorism to virtually anything considered a (real or invented) threat to public safety, well-being, property, infrastructure, the economy, religious sites or the environment.
It makes no distinction between alleged attacks against civilians, soldiers or police. Vandalism against (Israeli) religious sites is now terrorism.
Terrorist organizations are any authorities say so for any reason or none at all. Members or supporters face harsh punishment.
Any alleged terrorist crime incurs “double the penalty set for the same crimes, but no more than 30 years” imprisonment. Administrative detentions (without charges levied or trials) can be ordered more easily than before, subjecting victims to indefinite imprisonment.
Punishment for allegedly intending to conduct a terrorist act is equivalent to committing it. Noted Israeli lawyer, human rights champion Leah Tsemel calls the new law “not…about terrorism. It…remove(s) restrictions from everything to do with opposition to occupation,” criminalizing legitimate resistance.
“When it comes to the occupation, there is no rule of law,” she explained. Israel always operated extrajudicially – now with more police state authority than before.
A passage in the 100-page measure reads as follows:
“The law substantially strengthens and widens the powers of the police and the General Security Services (Shabak or Shin Bet) to suppress any legitimate protest activities against Israeli policies.”
“It also enables the use of ‘secret evidence’ in order to take preventative measures against these activities, which impedes the possibility of objecting to these repressive decisions based on their merits before the judiciary.”
According to Yael Berda, “(y)ou don’t have to do anything to be considered a terrorist. You can publish an article or make a comment in cyberspace, and you will be criminalized.”
“If you are located in the physical environment of terrorist activities, you are guilty.” The measure applies specifically for Palestinians and Arab Israeli citizens – Jews as well for opposing regime authority.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) denounced the new measure, saying “in its current form, (it) seeks to perpetuate and normalise problematic arrangements that are currently set out in emergency legislation and regulations from the time of the British mandate.”
“(D)efinitions included in the bill are very broad and could apply to people and organizations who are not engaged in terrorism. Such broad definitions give excessive discretion to law enforcement authorities to determine ‘who is a terrorist,’ with potentially serious implications.”
“For example, the definition of ‘terrorist act’ may apply to protests, including ‘disturbances.’ The definition of ‘member of a terrorist organization’ includes people who did not take any active part in the organization. The broad definitions contained in the bill and the draconian powers that it gives to authorities could potentially lead to serious human rights violations.”
The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel condemned the measure, saying it “substantially strengthens and widens the powers of the police and the Shabak to suppress any legitimate protest activities against Israeli policies.”
It’s specifically designed to criminalize legitimate resistance – “to further suppress the struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the pursuit of their political activities in support of Palestinians living under Occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
Humanitarian and cultural activities are vulnerable. So is independent journalism, legitimately criticizing repressive state policies. Its passage assures greater collective punishment – all the more urgency to resist this vile, freedom-destroying regime.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
GAZA – Hamas has deemed remarks by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, an attempt to quell the ongoing Palestinian intifada and consolidate Israeli domination over the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.
On Saturday, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, slammed Kerry’s remarks in which he signaled Netanyahu’s commitment to allow Muslims to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque while granting non-Muslims the right to visit the holy site.
The group said Kerry’s remarks come as an attempt on part of the United States to help the Israeli occupation find a way out of the crisis it faces as a result of the Palestinian uprising.
The Movement noted that the declaration equates Muslim prayer rights with visitation rights for non-Muslims and could be used to justify provocative and sacrilegious break-ins by Israeli extremist settlers.
Hamas added that the vague language of the declaration gives Netanyahu the opportunity to maneuver and renege on any commitments in an attempt to pave the way for grabbing hold of the holy Mosque.
Hamas urged the PA president Mahmoud Abbas and the Jordanian authorities to turn down any compromise that gives the occupation the opportunity to violate Palestinian rights at Al-Aqsa or that limits Palestinians’ ability to protect the Mosque.
Hamas called on all Palestinians to watch out for attempts to abort the Jerusalem Intifada and to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque no matter the prices that might have to be paid.
The Palestinian Authority and Israeli intelligence services are behind messages in which Daesh members make threats against Hamas and accuse it of blasphemy, a senior Hamas leader has said.
In statements to Quds Press, Salah Bardawil downplayed the importance of videos which apparently show Daesh members making threats against Hamas, accusing the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service and the occupation of spreading them to confuse Hamas and to implement projects which harm the Palestinian cause.
He said the investigations conducted by the Ministry of Interior in Gaza revealed that this is a plot orchestrated by the intelligence that used Daesh’s name to smear Hamas’s name.
Bardawil added that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are trying to attack Hamas. He added that the movement’s objective is “clear”: Resisting the occupation.
A video thought to have been published by the Islamic State’s Wilayat Damascus division appears to show two masked men warning that Daesh does not differentiate between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Israeli occupation, and it will fight them all.
CAIRO – Four Palestinians kidnapped at gunpoint in Egypt’s Sinai late Wednesday are members of Hamas, Egyptian security officials said, and are being held hostage by the Sinai Province militant group.
Egyptian officials told Ma’an that the four Hamas members were taken hostage by the IS-affiliated group as a bargaining chip to force Hamas to release some 50 Salafists currently imprisoned in Gaza.
The members were identified as Abd al-Basit Abd al-Dayim, Abdullah Said Abdullah Abu Jibbeen, Yasir Fathi Misbah Zanoun and Hussein Khamis al-Thabda.
Negotiations have reportedly begun between Hamas and the militant group, with the involvement of both Palestinian and Egyptian mediators.
Initial investigations suggest the Hamas members were taken to the al-Tuma village south of the city of Sheikh Zuweid.
Sources close to the Sinai Province group — which pledged allegiance to IS in November — have said the four kidnapped Hamas members would be killed if Hamas did not comply with the group’s demands.
The group has claimed responsibility for attacks on Egypt’s army which have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since 2013.
The attacks are allegedly in response to the bloody repression launched by the authorities under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s control, which has seen at least 1,400 killed and thousands more jailed.
Since last summer’s devastating war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip, there have been growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and other militant groups in the strip, with a string of small-scale explosions.
In June, video footage alleged to be from an IS stronghold in Syria showcased a public challenge by the group against Hamas’ power in Gaza, accusing the Gazan leadership of failing to enforce stringent religious law in the strip.
Prior to the threat, Hamas had reportedly been increasingly challenged by Salafist militant groups in Gaza, with some taking credit for rocket fire into Israel.
The Trial and Sentencing of Amer Jubran
On July 29, 2015, the trial of Palestinian activist Amer Jubran in Jordan reached its predictable conclusion: 10 years with hard labor for phony “terrorism” offenses, based at least in part on laws manufactured after his arrest.
Last year I wrote an article about the circumstances of Amer’s arrest and detention. At that time he was being held without charges, after being seized from his home in the middle of the night and held incommunicado at an undisclosed location for over 2 months.
In August of 2014, he was finally given a list of charges against him. These included the charge of threatening to “harm relations with a foreign government,” part of a new set of “anti-terrorism” laws enacted in Jordan in June of 2014 (a month after Amer’s arrest in May). The law is a codification of Jordan’s existing practice of arresting dissidents who call attention to the regime’s traitorous collaboration with the main political enemies of its own people: Israel and the United States. A pertinent example would be Mwaffaq Mahadin, tried in 2010 for “endangering relations with a foreign state” for speaking on Al-Jazeera about Jordan’s security cooperation with the US. Under the new legislation, this “crime” became a “terrorism” offense, punishable before the State Security Court.
In a statement about his trial and sentencing recorded from prison (recording here, transcript here), Amer recounts a moment in his interrogation by the GID (General Intelligence Directorate, Jordan’s infamous secret police) which leaves no doubt about the real decision-makers behind his arrest and imprisonment:
During the interrogation period, I was told by the GID that any decision made about me is involving (quote) ‘our American and Israeli friends’ (end-quote). All started when I refused to be a sell-out and work against the Lebanese resistance. I was told then that I will be sent behind the sun for such a refusal. And frankly it is very easy for me to disappear behind the sun rather than to be well outside, but a sell-out and traitor.
The involvement of the US in Amer’s detention and trial comes as no surprise. As I recounted in my earlier article, the US had already detained Amer while he was living in the United States for his political activism on behalf of Palestine and against the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. While living here as a green-card holder, he committed the inexcusable crime of refusing to be intimidated by the wave of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim repression that immediately followed September 11.
In 2002, he stood on a stage in Washington DC, before an anti-war gathering of more than 75,000 people, and spoke against US support for Israel and against the invasion of Iraq.
Amer has clarified in conversation that his refusal “to be a sell-out and work against the Lebanese resistance” was a refusal to act as an infiltrator and informant for the GID. He was thus charged with supporting Hezbollah.
In a similar trial that reached its conclusion a day earlier, another 12 people were sentenced for periods of up to 15 years for supporting Hamas. As one commentator asked in the Jordan Times: “[I]n whose interest is it to try those who support the Palestinian Hamas movement?”
“Anti-terrorism” laws that criminalize support for armed movements of national liberation in Palestine and national self-defense in Lebanon have nothing to do with protecting Jordan or its people. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah has ever threatened the security of Jordan. Such laws are designed purely to protect the interests of Israel and the US in their ongoing violations of the national sovereignty of Arab lands.
Likewise, Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate and its State Security Court function as arms of foreign powers. They are not protecting the security of Jordanians, but rather the security of Jordan’s most violent and militarily aggressive neighbor (Israel), and US soldiers who use Jordan as a base for attacking other Arab countries. Most recently, the US has been using Jordan as a base for training military forces involved in the destabilization of Syria–a conflict that threatens to engulf the entire region in violence.
To do their work effectively, these agencies must necessarily suppress the human and political rights of Jordanians. Journalists, activists, professors, religious leaders and all of Jordan’s ordinary citizens live under the constant threat of Jordan’s secret police and its judicial security apparatus. Trials before the State Security Court lack even the outward semblance of judicial independence, with judges recruited from the military and the GID itself.
In the campaign to free Amer Jubran, we are calling for letters on Amer’s behalf to be directed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein, a Jordanian. We have no illusions about the UN or its High-Commissioner for Human Rights. The value of such a campaign is to show that people around the world are watching, and to strip away the sham of “human rights” and “democracy” in Jordan.
Jordan is the most valuable regional asset for both Israel and the US. Its GID is one of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world, active throughout the region, and does much of the dirty work of suppressing the rights of people in the Arab world. It’s time to expose its crimes, and disrupt the political arrangement behind them.
The chair of Labour Friends of Israel has urged party members not to back anti-war advocate Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership race because he previously called for Arab groups Hamas and Hezbollah to be involved in Middle East peace talks.
Joan Ryan said Monday there were “deep concerns” about Corbyn’s leadership campaign and in particular the positions he has taken on Israel.
The Labour Friends of Israel official asked supporters to back a candidate who could play a “constructive” role in negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine.
Corbyn has faced criticism during his leadership election campaign for previously calling Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” and insisting they be involved in regional peace discussions.
Ryan, who replaced Anne Mcguire as head of Labour Friends of Israel on Monday, told the Jewish Chronicle that Labour must be “steadfast” in its support for Tel Aviv.
She added that last month’s Jewish community hustings for the Labour leadership contenders had been a key step in the party’s efforts to “win back the trust and confidence of the Jewish community.”
Ryan, who nominated Blairite Liz Kendall in the leadership contest, went on to caution Labour voters that members should elect the candidate that is most likely to play a “constructive” role in the peace process.
“We hope that Labour party members and supporters will consider when they vote which candidate is best placed to ensure that the next Labour government can play a constructive and engaged role in the crucial search for a two-state solution,” she said.
“We recognize the deep concerns which exist about positions taken, and statements made, by Jeremy Corbyn in the past and recognize the serious questions which arise from these.”
Ryan, a former Home Office minister and party whip, said Labour Friends of Israel would “continue to work with progressives in both Israel and Palestine who share our commitment to peace and co-existence.
“At the same time, we remain adamantly opposed to boycotts and sanctions, which delegitimize Israel, do nothing to further these goals and have no place in the Labour Party.”
Corbyn was grilled by Channel 4 journalist Kristan Guru-Murthy in an interview in July for having previously called Hamas and Hezbollah “friends.”
During the interview the veteran left-winger rejected the idea that he agreed with the two organizations, which Israel considers to be terrorist groups.
Following intense questioning by Guru-Murthy, Corbyn explained his position.
“Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No,” the Labour MP said.
“There is not going to be a peace process unless there are talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas – and I think everyone knows that.”
Corbyn added that even the former head of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad agreed that more comprehensive talks must be pursued. The Israeli intelligence chief argued at the time that any viable peace process would involve negotiations with people who hold opposing viewpoints.
The socialist candidate has faced intense criticism from Labour elites since announcing his candidacy, with a number of high-profile politicians urging voters to back other candidates.
Attacks on Corbyn’s campaign became even more heated after a YouGov poll, published by The Times newspaper on Monday night, found that Corbyn had doubled his lead over the past week and would now poll 53 percent, meaning he could secure a first-round victory without needing to count the second preferences of Labour supporters.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Blair-era PR guru Alistair Campbell have all urged Labour supporters to reject Corbyn, arguing he would make Labour “unelectable” in the 2020 general election.
Although the facts, the law, and admissions by Israeli government officials all pointed otherwise, during the July-August 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, the Israeli government was successful in promoting its self-defense claim with western news media and in persuading certain U.S. politicians that Israel was implementing its right to defend itself.
Claims of “self-defense” against Hamas rocket fire were invoked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and the United States Senate, and not only as justification for the Israeli assault. “Self-defense” against the rockets also served to deflect allegations that Israeli forces committed war crimes by targeting civilians and civilian property in Gaza.
Public relations campaigns based on self-defense have been critical to Israeli officials avoiding accountability after each of the six major assaults on Gaza since Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005. Notwithstanding the reports of war crimes committed by Israeli forces, the remarkable success of those self-defense based public relations campaigns continued to provide Israeli officials with impunity: the freedom to strike militarily again.
That impunity may come to an end if the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decides to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine and prosecutions follow. However, immediately after the Prosecutor announced that she was launching a “preliminary examination” on January 16, 2015, Netanyahu launched a multi-pronged “public diplomacy campaign to discredit the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) recent decision to start an inquiry into what the Palestinians call Israeli ‘war crimes’ in the disputed territories.” The public diplomacy campaign is based entirely on Israel’s claim that it acted in self-defense. The Israeli campaign also included a threat to disregard the decision of the court, a threat to the funding of the court, and the announcement that Israel was freezing transfer of more than $100 million a month in taxes Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority in retaliation for the State of Palestine joining the ICC and requesting the ICC inquiry.
A new 63 page report, “Neither facts nor law support Israel’s self-defense claim regarding its 2014 assault on Gaza,” submitted to the ICC Prosecutor on behalf of the Palestine Subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild (“the ICC submission”), uses both authoritative contemporaneous Israeli and Palestinian reports and newly released reports and documents to demonstrate that Israeli claims of “self-defense” for its 2014 attack on Gaza are unsupported in both fact and law. The ICC submission notes that the unusual strategy implemented by Israeli officials to publically discredit the court inquiry demonstrated a distinct departure from the traditional method of respectfully presenting evidence and persuasive arguments to the court.
The facts don’t fit Israel’s self-defense claim
Among the material considered in the ICC submission is the 277 page Israeli government report, “The 2014 Gaza Conflict: Factual and Legal Aspects” that was released by the Israeli government on June 14, 2015. Although the Israeli government report builds its case around self-defense, to its credit, the Israeli government report openly acknowledges that Israeli military forces (a) had been striking Gaza during 2013 and early 2014, (b) had launched a massive attack on the West Bank in mid-June 2014, and (c) had launched an aerial strike on a tunnel in Gaza on July 5, 2014. However, the Israeli government report omits mention that all these dates were before the night of July 7, 2014, the date a contemporaneous report from an authoritative Israeli source said “For the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense [November 21, 2012], Hamas participated in and claimed responsibility for rocket fire” (emphasis in the original). The contemporaneous report was issued by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), a private Israeli think tank that the Washington Post says “has close ties with the country’s military leadership.”
While the Israeli government report acknowledged the aerial strike on the tunnel in Gaza, it omitted mention of the extent of Israeli attacks on Gaza during the night before Hamas participated and claimed responsibility for its first rocket fire since 2012: The contemporaneous ITIC July 2 – July 8, 2014 weekly report states that on July 7 “approximately 50 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip were struck,” by Israeli forces, including strikes that killed six Hamas members in the tunnel.
The Israeli government report states:
On July 7, 2014, after more than 60 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip on a single day, the Government of Israel was left with no choice but to initiate a concerted aerial operation against Hamas and other terrorist organisations in order adequately to defend Israel’s civilian population.
Thus, the Israeli government report claims that the government was acting to defend Israel’s civilian population notwithstanding the fact that it had just admitted to an Israeli government attack that preceded the Hamas rocket fire on July 7. The attack on the tunnel that the ITIC reported killed the six Hamas members.
In a minute by minute timeline of events that day, the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz reported the Israeli attacks that began during the night of July 6 and continued in the early morning hours of July 7 that showed that the Israeli attack on the tunnel preceded the Hamas rockets:
at 2:24 a.m. on July 7:
Hamas reports an additional four militants died in a second Israeli air strike in Gaza, bringing Sunday night’s death total to six. This is the biggest single Israeli hit against Hamas since 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense.
at 9:37 p.m. on July 7 Ha’aretz reported:
Hamas claims responsibility for the rockets fired at Ashdod, Ofakim, Ashkelon and Netivot. Some 20 rockets exploded in open areas in the last hour.
Thus, an authoritative contemporaneous Israeli report acknowledged the fact that Hamas started firing its rockets some 20 hours after Israeli forces launched the attack on Gaza and killed the six Hamas members.
The Israeli government report couches the more than 60 rockets launched at Israel on the night of July 7 as giving the government of Israel no choice but to escalate aerial operations. But the report fails to mention that Israel actually had a choice as to whether or not to launch its prior lethal attack on the night of July 6 and the early morning hours of July 7. By omitting mention of the timing and the lethal effects of its attack on the tunnel, the Israeli government report avoids recognizing that its killing of the six Hamas members provoked the Hamas rocket fire.
While the Israeli government report mentions strikes on Gaza during 2013 and 2014, it omits mention of the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks during 2013 and the increased rate of such killing during the first three months of 2014.
According to a report issued by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, “PCHR Annual Report 2013:”
The number of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces was 46 victims in circumstances where no threats were posed to the lives of Israeli soldiers. Five of these victims died of wounds they had sustained in previous years. Of the total number of victims, there were 41 civilians, 33 of whom were in the West Bank and eight in the Gaza Strip, including six children, two women; and five non-civilians, including one in the West Bank and the other four in the Gaza Strip. In 2013, 496 Palestinians sustained various wounds, 430 of them in the West Bank and 66 in the Gaza Strip, including 142 children and 10 women.
An escalation of Israeli violence against Palestinians in early 2014 compared to the rate for the entire year 2013 is evident from PCHR’s “Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 1st Quarter of 2014.”Among the violations presented in the report, 20 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during the first three months of 2014, including 11 civilians of whom two were children; 259 were wounded, of whom 255 were civilians, including 53 children. “The majority of these Palestinians, 198, were wounded during peaceful protests and clashes with Israeli forces.”
Nor does the Israeli government report mention any of the lethal Israeli government attacks on the West Bank and Gaza in the days and weeks before three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed on the West Bank on June 12, 2014:
* Israeli forces shot 9 teenagers demonstrating on the West Bank on May 15, killing two.
* Israeli forces wounded nine Palestinian civilians, including a child during the week of June 5 to June 11.
* Israeli forces launched an extrajudicial execution on June 11 in Gaza that killed one and wounded three.
Nor does the Israeli government report describe the extent of casualties inflicted by the June 13 to June 30 military offensive on the West Bank, Operation Brothers Keeper, in which Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 51, according to the contemporaneous weekly reports issued by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
In addition, the Israeli government’s 277 page report omits mention of admissions by Prime Minister Netanyahu of other military and political purposes for its assault on the West Bank, described in a contemporaneous report in the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, on June 15, 2014: to capture Hamas members (some of whom the Israeli government had previously released in a prisoner exchange and some of whom were Parliamentarians in the new Palestinian unity government), create “severe repercussions,” and punish the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for forming a unity government. Importantly, although he accused “Hamas people” of carrying out the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, Netanyahu made no mention of stopping rocket fire. The non-mention of rocket fire by Netanyahu is consistent with the ITIC report of no rocket fire at that time.
Similarly, after describing the Israeli operations that caused Hamas to pay a “heavy price” on the West Bank, as shown in a video of his speech at the US Ambassador’s residence in Tel Aviv on July 4, Netanyahu acknowledged that “in Gaza we hit dozens of Hamas activists and destroyed outposts and facilities that served Hamas terrorists.” Thus Netanyahu himself acknowledged major Israeli military operations in Gaza preceding the launching of Hamas rockets on July 7.
Facilitating the Israeli and U.S. government campaign to pin responsibility on Hamas and support an Israeli self-defense claim, certain western news media, including the New York Times, published an incorrect timeline. The timeline published by the New York Times dated the start of the war to July 8, the first full day of Hamas rocket barrages, and more than a day after Israeli forces had escalated their aerial attack on Gaza killing the six Hamas members. The Times timeline simply omits mention of the lethal Israeli attacks on the night of July 6 and early morning hours on July 7 that Ha’aretz said preceded the Hamas barrage of rockets on the night of July 7. The New York Times timeline also omits mention of the 24 days of “Operation Bring Back Our Brothers,” that began on June 13, the June 11 extra-judicial execution of a Hamas member in Gaza, the June 13 attack on the “terrorist facility and a weapons storehouse in the southern Gaza Strip,” and the killing of the two Palestinian teenagers and wounding of seven other Palestinians who were demonstrating on May 15. The New York Times timeline also omits mention of the lethal Israeli attacks in 2013 and the escalation of those attacks in early 2014 that the Israeli government report admitted under the euphemism “targeted efforts to prevent future attacks.”
The law doesn’t fit Israel’s self-defense claim
Not just facts and admissions stand in the way of Israel’s self-defense claim. In a 2004 decision rejecting Israel’s self-defense claim for the wall, a relatively passive structure crossing occupied Palestinian territory, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held that, under the UN Charter, self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter is inapplicable to measures taken by an occupying power within occupied territory. While the ICJ recognized Israel’s right and its duty to protect its citizens, it said “The measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.” While the Israeli government report includes mention of a law review article that relies on an ICJ holding favorable to an Israeli position on another issue, the Israeli government report omits mention of the directly on point ICJ case regarding applicability of self-defense to Israel as occupying power in Gaza.
But even if Israel could overcome the facts showing that Israeli forces initiated the combat, and even if Israel was not the occupying power in Gaza and did not have to address the law regarding self-defense for an occupying power presented in the ICJ decision, Israel’s claim to self-defense would still be invalidated if its assault extended beyond what was necessary and proportionate to deal with an armed attack it was purportedly facing, as more fully described in the ICC submission.
Necessity was contradicted by the data provided by the ITIC showing that Israel had been wildly successful at stopping and/or preventing rocket fire by agreeing to and at least partially observing a ceasefire, while Israel consistently dialed up rocket fire with each of its major assaults on Gaza since 2006. By contrast, as shown in the ICC submission, hundreds of times more rockets were falling on Israel during each day of each of the major assaults on Gaza than were falling in the periods before Israeli forces attacked or after the assault ended with a new ceasefire.
Necessity was also contradicted by an article in the May 2013 Jerusalem Post, “IDF source: Hamas working to stop Gaza rockets,” quoting the IDF General who commands the army’s Gaza Division who said that Hamas had been policing other groups in Gaza “to thwart rocket attacks from the strip.” The Hamas observance of the ceasefire and its policing of other groups to prevent rocket fire demonstrated an effective alternative to an Israeli assault. The Israeli attacks on the West Bank and Gaza during the period between June 13 and the early morning hours of July 7, 2014 put that ceasefire and that Hamas policing of other groups at risk. Israel could have more effectively protected its citizens from rocket fire by continuing to at least partially observe the successful cease-fire in place before Israel escalated its assaults on the West Bank and Gaza. So the necessity for the escalation on June 13 and the further escalation on July 7 to protect Israeli citizens from rocket fire has not been shown.
The necessity and proportionality requirements for a self-defense claim were also contradicted by evidence that actions by Israeli forces during the assault on Gaza went outside the laws of war by directly targeting Palestinian civilians and Palestinian civilian property. The proportionality requirement was further contradicted by evidence of widespread Israeli attacks that harmed civilians or civilian property disproportionate to the military advantage Israeli forces received from the attacks. The evidence for such war crimes cited in the ICC submission comes from reports of investigations conducted by the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry (June 22, 2015); the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Lawyers for Palestinian for Human Rights (LPHR), and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) (June 26, 2015); the UN Human Rights Council (December 26, 2014); Defense for Children International Palestine (April 2015); Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) (January 20, 2015); Al-Haq (August 19, 2014); the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (September 4, 2014); Breaking the Silence (May 3, 2015); The Guardian (May 4, 2015); The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) (March 27, 2015), and contemporaneous and periodic reports issued by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Along with support from top U.S. officials, the enormously successful public relations campaigns based on claimed self-defense that Israeli officials mounted during and after each of the Israeli assaults on Gaza allowed Israel to avoid accountability, maintain impunity, and launch subsequent attacks. In view of that successful record, the effectiveness of Israel’s “public diplomacy campaign to discredit the ICC inquiry” based on the same self-defense claims should not be underestimated. Widespread recognition that Israel’s self-defense claim is deeply flawed is needed to counter the intense pressure Israeli officials and their allies are exerting on the ICC so the court may resist that pressure and base its decisions strictly on the facts and law.
James Marc Leas is a patent attorney and a past co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee. He collected evidence in Gaza immediately after Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 as part of a 20 member delegation from the U.S. and Europe and authored or co-authored four articles for Counterpunch describing findings, including Why the Self-Defense Doctrine Doesn’t Legitimize Israel’s Assault on Gaza. He also participated in the February 2009 National Lawyers Guild delegation to Gaza immediately after Operation Cast Lead and contributed to its report, “Onslaught: Israel’s Attack on Gaza and the Rule of Law.”
Here are excerpts from a 2007 report from award winning journalist Seymour Hersh. His report, published in the New Yorker under the heading “The Redirection,” outlines in clear language that the conspiracy to topple the governments of Syria and Iran, specifically by sponsoring terrorist groups as mercenaries against them, was conceived and initiated during the Bush years, and began to take shape in earnest in 2007.
In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”
Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.
The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”
This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.
Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)
The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.
Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah.
It has no nukes, no navy, no air–force, no tanks, no phosphor bombs, no subs, no guided missiles, no exits, nowhere to run… its people are terrorised, blockaded and exhausted... their homes are rubble… unemployment is the highest in the world and 73% suffer food insecurity… but suddenly:
Gaza is ‘a recurring threat to peace’!
This blame-it-on-Gaza bombshell came in the middle of a House of Lords debate on the political situation in the Gaza Strip yesterday.
‘Hasbara’ stooges present their propaganda ‘facts’
Lord Davies of Stamford, formerly the MP Quentin Davies, stood up:
My Lords, there are five salient facts that ought to come out of any debate about Gaza…. One is that Gaza is clearly a most unpleasant place to live: it is extremely poor and very violent. It is poor partially because of the blockades that have been imposed by both its neighbours, Egypt and Israel, for reasons that may be very understandable.
The second salient fact that has come out and which is certainly recognised all over the world is that Gaza in its present state is a recurring threat to peace in the region. Rockets are continually fired at Israel. After some years, the Israelis inevitably lose their patience…. and intervene militarily. There is nasty military action, obviously with a lot of fatalities.
Obviously. And the casualties (including over 578 children killed and 1,000 permanently disabled) are all on one side. It would be helpful to say why rockets are fired at Israel. But do carry on with your fascinating analysis, noble Lord.
Those two facts are pretty well known. There are three facts about Gaza that are not so well known and which ought to be better known. One is that it is a very nasty, savage tyranny…. Hamas imposes its power by regular use of torture and execution of political opponents: so-called collaborators with the Israelis and so forth.
By mentioning torture, his Lordship reminds me of the grim reports we keep getting about Israel torturing Palestinian child prisoners.
The fourth point that ought to be much better known is one I tried to bring out a few weeks ago at Questions, when I asked the Minister whether Hamas could bring to an end, any day it wanted, the blockade imposed by Israel, simply by accepting the quartet conditions. These, as the House knows, are: the giving up of violence, the recognition of the state of Israel and the acceptance of existing accords, including the Oslo accord. The answer I got was yes, the Hamas regime could, any day it wants, get rid of these blockades. It chooses not to do so.
Israel too could do all of those things but chooses not to. It could, if it had the sense, end its illegal occupation but chooses not to. And why would Palestinians recognise Israel when Israel has said repeatedly that it opposes a Palestinian state? His Lordship’s mention of the Oslo accord, I imagine, is a reference to the then prime minister Ehud Barak’s “generous” offer to the Palestinians. In an earlier speech Lord Davies said that Yasser Arafat, at the Camp David meeting, refused to consider an offer which would have resulted in 97% of the West Bank being handed over to a Palestinian state.
The offer was not what it seemed and the noble Lord was repeating a hasbara propaganda myth. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22% of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the measly 22% and recognise Israel within ‘Green Line’ borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line established after the Arab-Israeli War and recognised internationally as the border). Conceding 78% of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise but not enough for greedy Barak. He demanded the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within Palestine’s 22% remnant.
It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs would create impossible obstacles to Palestinian life which was already severely disrupted. Barak also insisted the Palestinian territories be placed under “Temporary Israeli Control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. His generous offer also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian State. What nation in the world would accept that? The map was never shown publicly, and propaganda spin concealed how preposterous Barak’s offer was.
The following year, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but it was withdrawn after his election defeat. The facts are well documented by organisations such as Israel’s Gush Shalom, which his Lordship might find enlightening.
Gaza ‘the most subsidised community on earth’
Lord Davies concluded his amazing insights:
The fifth point, which certainly is not as well known as it ought to be — because it affects the pockets of every taxpayer in this country, apart from anything else — is that this mixture of unpleasantness, tyranny, threat to world peace and denial is being actively subsidised by the international community to the tune of many billions of dollars a year…. this is probably the most subsidised community anywhere on God’s earth. The European Union makes much the biggest contribution to these subsidies, at about €1.6 billion, and the second largest contributor is Qatar, at about $1 billion.
If we are going to go on subsidising the Hamas regime as we do, we have to ask ourselves whether we should introduce an element of conditionality into our relationships with Hamas.
As everyone (except his Lordship) knows, it’s the Israeli occupation that is being subsidised. And Israel is repeatedly destroying infrastructure built with British taxpayers’ money. Left in peace and free to trade with the rest of the world the Palestinians would prosper.
To think that Lord Davies was once a Government defence minister… It’s no surprise to discover that he voted for the Iraq war and travelled to Israel and Palestine in 2008, expenses paid by Labour Friends of Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Or that, as reported in The Mirror, he claimed £10,000 of taxpayers’ money for repairs to window frames at his “second home” – an 18th century mansion.
He had earlier claimed £20,700 expenses (later amended to £5,376) for repairs to a “bell tower”.
You’d think that the human condition in the Holy Land, and especially Gaza after Israel’s horrific 50-day onslaught last summer, would bother our senior holy men. But apparently not. Twenty-six Church of England bishops sit in the House of Lords. Only the Bishop of Chester spoke up, thankfully injecting some much needed common sense:
In Gaza the World Bank estimates the per capita income to be 30% lower today than 20 years ago. The contrast just gets greater over time, which sets up a huge instability. I understand all the arguments for a two-state solution…. but will two states so closely linked geographically and yet on such divergent paths easily exist side by side?
What I cannot understand from the Israeli perspective is the settlement programme. It is acknowledged on practically all sides outside Israel that it is both illegal and ill judged. In a certain way it is a parallel to the political mistakes in South Africa, where the South Africans simply dug themselves in and could not see the misjudgment.
How are we to go forward? We have to work with Hamas…. working with it must be the future, difficult though that may be.
More ministerial wisdom
As if Lord Davies’ contribution wasn’t dreadful enough, Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office) closed the debate with some silly pokes at Hamas.
We have assessed that Hamas is seeking to rebuild militant infrastructure, including the tunnel network, in Gaza, and we are deeply concerned at reports of militant groups rearming.
What does she expect when the international community still fails to act and Israel continues its raids?
We will recognise the state of Palestine, where Palestinians currently live, only if and when Hamas get to the position whereby it can recognise the right of Israel to exist.
Israel has never defined its borders because it is bent on territorial expansion. The 56% of mandate Palestine allocated to Israel by UN Partition in 1947 was immediately expanded to 78% by Israeli military aggression. The rest of Palestine was taken over in 1967 and remains under the Israeli jackboot. So exactly what are Hamas supposed to ‘recognise’? They have already said they’ll accept a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 Green Line borders, which is exactly in accord with international law.
Our policy on Hamas remains clear: it must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Hamas must make credible movement towards these conditions, which still remain the benchmark against which its intentions should be judged.
Why? There is no parallel requirement on Israel.
The UK is deeply concerned by the terrible human cost to both sides of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as underlined by the findings of the report. We strongly condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip.
Again, no parallel condemnation of Israel’s murderous bombardment of Palestinian civilians.
We therefore welcome the fact that Israel is conducting its own internal investigations into specific incidents. Where there is evidence of wrongdoing those responsible must be held accountable.
Don’t hold your breath, Baroness.
The United Kingdom has been one of the largest donors to Gaza since last summer, providing more than £17 million in emergency assistance. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Stamford, that none of our aid goes to Hamas. It goes via the United Nations relief agency and the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism…. The UK pledged an additional £20 million…. We have now delivered 80% of that pledge, with more to come shortly.
The British taxpayer, yet again, picks up the tab for the wreckage left behind by Israeli war crimes. It’s a paltry sum considering the Israelis caused damage estimated at $6 billion. If it wasn’t for the rotten windows of Lord Davies’ mansion and his crumbling bell tower, we could afford to give more.