The Tel Aviv regime has prevented five European parliamentarians from entering the Gaza Strip as the Palestinian enclave remains under an inhumane Israeli siege.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Neoklis Sylikiotis, a Cypriot Member of the European Parliament (MEP), denounced the Israeli obstruction of the lawmakers’ access to the Palestinian coastal sliver.
“The refusal of access to Gaza by the Israeli authorities to the European Parliament on arbitrary grounds is unacceptable,” the statement read.
However, Israel claimed that the MEPs were not among those allowed to enter the Gaza Strip.
Similar European delegations have been barred from Gaza since 2011 though a team led by the head of the European Parliament’s budget committee was allowed to visit once, the statement added.
“What is there to hide from us?” it further asked, condemning Israel’s “systematic” entry bans to Gaza.
It also called on the international community to pressure the Tel Aviv regime to lift the Gaza blockade that has been in place Since June 2007 and affected almost all the two million inhabitants of the enclave.
The World Bank and the United Nations say the Gaza siege has killed all exports and damaged the Palestinian territory’s economy.
Tel Aviv has waged three wars on Gaza since 2008, including the 2014 offensive that left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.
Israel’s demolition plan ‘unacceptable’
Separately on Wednesday, Robert Piper, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, visited the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank and voiced alarm over an Israeli plan to demolish structures there.
On Sunday, Israeli forces distributed demolition orders to 40 structures, including tents, huts and a school in the village.
According to Palestinian media outlets, Khan al-Ahmar residents were given until Thursday to vacate the village.
“Khan al-Ahmar is one of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank struggling to maintain a minimum standard of living in the face of intense pressure from the Israeli authorities to move,” Piper said in a statement. “This is unacceptable and it must stop.”
International bodies and rights groups say Israel’s sustained demolitions of Palestinian homes are aimed at uprooting Palestinians from their native territories, and expropriating more land for the expansion of settlements.
Tel Aviv is has accelerated its land grab and settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian lands after pro-Israel US President Donald Trump took office.
Israeli forces have demolished over 48,000 Palestinian homes and buildings since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Israeli Public Security Minister tell Israel’s Channel 10 on Jan.18: “Unequivocally, yes, this is a terror attack.”
BETHLEHEM – More than a month after Israeli police shot and killed Yaqoub Abu al-Qian in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran during a demolition raid, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan seemingly backtracked on his initial claim that Abu al-Qian was carrying out a vehicular attack motivated by Islamic extremism when he was shot.
Following the incident, multiple eyewitnesses, video footage, and testimonies from Abu al-Qian’s family members contradicted the minister’s claim, saying that Israeli police opened fire on the local high school math teacher when he posed no threat, which caused him to lose control of the vehicle and ram into Israeli policeman Erez Levi, who was also killed.
On Wednesday, Israeli media sites reported that remarks made by Erdan at a police gathering in Beersheba implied that Israeli authorities were no longer classifying the incident as a terror attack.
Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Erdan as referring to the incident as “difficult and regrettable,” adding that “we mustn’t let anyone try to take this particular incident — in which unfortunately both a policeman and a civilian were killed — and draw inferences from it regarding the totality of the relationship between the Bedouin population and the police.”
“We must learn the lessons, once it becomes clear what exactly happened there,” he added, noting that an investigation by Israel’s Justice Ministry on the case was still ongoing. “Then we must go forward, strengthen this relationship, and bolster police services and enforcement against lawbreakers who first and foremost hurt our beloved Bedouin community, with which we want to continue living in coexistence in the Negev.”
The comments seemed to imply that Israeli authorities sought to distance themselves from the minister’s comments immediately following incident, when he said that “the picture arising from the police probe was very clear: This was an attack, a deliberate car-ramming.”
Erdan had also told Israel’s Radio Darom at the time: “After the investigation concludes, if it turns out the police were wrong, I too will demand explanations from them,” he said. “But to present this as if it were one person’s story versus another when a policeman has been murdered in an attack — I think that’s wrong and inappropriate.”
Erdan and Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld had said that during a raid of Abu al-Qian’s home the day of his killing that police found three copies of a Hebrew-language newspaper from 2015 with the headline: “ISIS bomb that took down a plane,” which was presented as the only evidence to back up the claim that the man carried out an attack motivated by Islamic extremism.
However, according to Haaretz, Israel’s internal security agency the Shin Bet reported two weeks after the incident that they had yet to find any actual evidence connecting Abu al-Qian to ISIS.
Human rights organization Adalah responded to Erdan’s recent remarks — which it interpreted as an announcement by police that the Umm al-Hiran killing was not a terror attack — saying: “From the outset, Adalah maintained that the version of events in Umm al-Hiran promoted by the Israeli police and (Erdan) was both false and inflammatory.”
The organization noted that it had filed an appeal to the Israeli Justice Ministry’s Police Investigative Division (PID) on behalf of the Abu al-Qian family on the day of his killing, and that it had also appealed to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit demanding that he open an investigation into Erdan’s “racist incitement against Arab citizens of Israel.”
Responding to reports interpreting Erdan’s comments as backtracking, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri reiterated in a written statement that an investigation was still ongoing and that “the information being spread to public is one interpretation and incomplete, and fails to include details of the case’s many sides.”
Israeli Police Commissioner Ronnie al-Sheikh also responded to reports, telling Israeli news site Ynet : “I can’t be responsible for any unofficial publications. I do know with certainty, from the head of the Police Investigations Unit, that conclusions have yet to be reached.”
In the wake of the deadly incident, members of the Joint List, which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset, also accused police of intentionally covering up the fact that they shot Abu al-Qian in cold blood.
Joint List MKs had traveled to Umm al-Hiran to help locals attempting to resist the demolitions, when the head of the coalition, Ayman Odeh, was injured after being shot in the head by police with sponge-tipped bullet when clashes erupted with police.
Erdan had accused Odeh of traveling to Umm al-Hiran to “incite violence” and warned that there might be “criminal implications for him.”
Erdan also said on social media that “any attempts to murder police securing a court-ordered evacuation will get the same response,” referring to the killing of Abu al-Qian.
Abu al-Qian’s death and the subsequent demolition of more than a dozen homes in Umm al-Hiran sparked widespread outrage and numerous demonstrations attended by thousands, with protesters calling on Erdan to resign for “lying” to the Israeli public, saying they held him responsible for the two killings. … Full article
British universities have been advised to “manage” Palestinian activism on campus in order to comply with the UK government’s ‘Prevent’ counter-extremism strategy.
“Vocal support for Palestine,” “Opposition to Israeli settlements in Gaza,” and “Criticism of wars in the Middle East” are included in a list of “contentious topics” on the Safe Campus Communities website.
The website includes a training section set up by Universities UK and the government’s now defunct Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to help staff fulfill their Prevent obligations.
Since 2015, Prevent has required public sector workers to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”
The website says the material is intended to promote free speech by encouraging universities to ensure “topics that may be seen as controversial” may be “debated in a safe environment.”
It advises institutions to take steps to manage events in which “extremist views are likely to be expressed” and ensure such views are challenged by “inviting additional speakers with opposing views.”
“Relevant higher education bodies also need to risk assess and manage events where these or similar views may be expressed,” it says.
Critics fear the guidance could stifle free speech and political expression, according to Middle East Eye.
On Tuesday, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) canceled an ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ event organized for next week by Friends of Palestine because of concerns it would not be “balanced,” Middle East Eye reports.
UCLan said it was concerned that the event, called ‘Debunking misconceptions on Palestine and the importance of BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement]’, would fall foul of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the UK government.
The IHRA defines anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews,” including “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
UCLan said: “We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.
“In this instance our procedures determined that the proposed event would not be lawful and therefore it will not proceed as planned.”
Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said it was absurd to single out support for a Palestinian state or opposition to Israeli settlements as controversial or extremist.
“Given that all major political parties in the UK and the overwhelming majority of governments across the world support a Palestinian state and oppose settlements on the basis that they violate international law and are an obstacle to peace it is absurd to define these as extremist views.
“There is an urgent need for the relevant bodies to review these materials and ensure that any training offered to educational establishments truly reflects the stated intention to uphold academic freedom and freedom of expression,” he said.
The stark reality is that both solutions are impossible unless imposed from outside, and just where do we see any prospect for that?
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | February 22, 2017
Israel has created a terrible problem which it is incapable of solving. That is why it has always been the case that the United States must pretty much dictate a solution, but it is unable to do so, paralyzed as it is by the heavy influence of Israel and America’s own apologists and lobbyists.
Trump’s suggestion of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is welcomed by some because Israel’s settler policy is said to have made two states impossible, as it was most certainly intended to do. However, a little reflection on hard facts makes it clear that a one-state solution is just as impossible.
A single-state solution would be acceptable to all reasonable minds, but you only have to follow the news to know that Israel contains a good many unreasonable minds. Its early advocates and founders were, quite simply, fanatics, and its policies and attitudes were shaped by that fanaticism.
The Israeli establishment could simply not accept a Palestinian population with equal rights and the franchise as part of Israel. They could not do so because they have embraced an almost mystical concept of Israel as “the Jewish state.” Of course, the de facto reality of today’s combined population of Israel and its occupied territories is that Palestinians, who importantly include not just Muslims but many Christians, are already about half of the total.
And there are physical realities forming huge barriers against a single state, things of which many people are not aware. Very importantly, fertility rates in Arab populations are considerably higher than in the European Ashkenazi population which forms Israel’s elite. That has nothing to do with ethnic characteristics. It is a result of much lower levels of affluence influencing the behavior of people having children. It is a universal reality we see.
That’s why Arabic populations are such relatively young populations with a high proportion of children. When Israel bombs a place like Gaza or Lebanon, as it does periodically, it always kills many hundreds of children because they make a big share of the population. An advanced country like Japan has low fertility and traditionally is averse to much migration. It faces a future with an aging and declining population.
All older European and North American countries have fertility rates too low to replace their otherwise declining populations. America or France or Israel or similar states simply do not have enough babies to replace their populations. That’s a fundamental reality of advanced, affluent society. People with rich, demanding lives do not have large numbers of children, anywhere, knowing, as they do, that the few they do have will almost certainly survive and will better thrive with more concentrated resources.
That’s the real reason behind most countries’ immigration policies, not generosity or kindness. But, of course, Israel has a serious problem with immigration, too. As the “Jewish state” it is open to only one category of migrant, and that category of people makes a tiny fraction of the world’s population. Further, most of that tiny fraction live in comfortable, affluent places, far more desirable to live in than Israel – places like America, Canada, Australia, Britain, France, etc.
A single-state Israel would combine low fertility Europeans with higher fertility Arabic people, thus creating a long-term trajectory for a minority-Jewish state, a reality which would be repellent to all conservative Jews and many others, in light of the founding notion of Israel as a refuge from believed widespread anti-Semitism, plus the vaguely-defined but emotionally-loaded notion of a “Jewish state,” and, still further, the biblical myths of God’s having given the land exclusively to Jews.
You simply cannot make rational sense out of that bundle of attitudes and prejudices, yet you cannot get a rational solution to a massive problem otherwise, a problem, it should be noted, of Israel’s own deliberate making in the Six Day War. Likely, when Israel’s leadership started that war, they calculated that Palestinians would come to feel so miserable under occupation that they’d just pick up and leave over time. Moshe Dayan, one of the architects of the war, actually spoke along those very lines of keeping the Palestinians miserable so they would leave. But their calculations were wrong. Most people, anywhere, do not pick-up and leave their native place. Otherwise the world would be a constant whirlwind of migrations.
Although Israel does not discuss the relative population growth rate situation in public, authorities and experts there are keenly aware of the reality. It is difficult to imagine them ever embracing a single state for this reason. When you found a state on ideology and myths, as Israel was founded, you very soon bump up against some unhappy realities.
So, if there is not to be a Palestinian state, what are Israel’s other options? There seem to be only two.
One is to deport all or most Palestinians, an ugly idea which is probably also unworkable, although it has very much seriously been discussed among educated Israelis periodically. Apart from the Nazi-like connotations around such an act, who, on earth, is going to take literally millions of people from Israel? In the past, Israeli ideologues have seriously suggested both the country of Jordan and parts of Egypt contiguous with Israel as possibilities.
Can any realistic person believe those states stand ready to take millions of people in? No, of course not, but that hasn’t stopped the ideologues of Israel from going back to the idea again and again. Of course, there is the pure ethical problem of moving millions against their will and seizing all their property, but ethics have never featured large in Israel’s policies from the beginning.
The other solution is to re-create apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans, little enclaves of land with often undesirable characteristics into which you crowd all the people that you don’t want and declare that these are their new countries. We see this already in Israel, notably in Gaza, which really is a giant refugee camp much resembling a concentration camp with high fences and automated machine-gun towers surrounding it, the residents being permitted almost no freedom of movement or even economic activity, as for example Gaza’s fishermen being fired on by Israeli gunboats if they stray even slightly beyond tight boundaries in the sea.
The world would not long tolerate that approach no matter how much influence the United States might unfairly exert. After all, for a long time, the United States protected and cooperated with apartheid South Africa, always regarding it as an important bulwark against communism, anti-communism being the fervent secular religion of the day in America. This was so much the case that it even overlooked what it absolutely had to know about, apartheid South Africa’s acquisition of a small arsenal of nuclear weapons with the assistance of Israel, Israel always being keen to keep good access to South Africa’s mineral wealth.
Clearly, those two options are not solutions. Realities absolutely demand either a legitimate two-state solution – which Israel’s leaders have never truly accepted while giving it time-buying lip-service – or a one-state solution which is probably even more unacceptable to Israel’s leaders and much of its population, guaranteeing, as it does, the eventual minority status of Jews.
Israel has itself created a terrible problem which it is incapable of solving. That is why it has always been the case that the United States must pretty much dictate a solution, but it is unable to do so, paralyzed as it is by the heavy influence of Israel and America’s own apologists and lobbyists.
So, in effect, the world just goes around and around on this terrible problem, never doing anything decisive. The macabre dance of Israel and the United States we’ve had for decades yields today’s de facto reality of Israel as nothing more but nothing less than a protected American colony in the Middle East, one in which all kinds of international norms and laws are completely suspended, one where millions live with no rights and no citizenship. But, after all, colonies have never been places where the rule of law and human rights prevail, have they? Never.
Out of all of Trump’s appointees, Nikkie Haley is probably one of the worst. Formerly a governor of South Carolina, Haley is the current US ambassador to the United Nations. That’s her in the video above giving a presentation at the UN last Thursday.
I’m not sure how much Haley knows about international law. According to Wikipedia, she graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. How she ended up as UN ambassador, after criticizing Trump in the general election, is unclear. *
At any rate, Haley seems fully unaware that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Nor does she seem to comprehend why other UN-member states might press for resolutions seeking to call Israel to account, both for its settlements as well as its 50-year occupation of the West Bank–land universally recognized as necessary for a Palestinian state. So perhaps she is simply uninformed and does not understand the nature of Israel’s occupation or its devastating impact upon the lives of those forced to live under it. Or at least that’s one possibility.
The other possibility, of course, is that Haley does understand these things… and that she simply believes Israel is exceptional and should not have to follow the same laws and international standards that apply to other states. If so, apparently in Israel are those who would agree with her. Less than a week after her talk at the UN–in which she accused the body of a “prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues”–an Israeli military court handed down an 18-month sentence to an Israeli soldier who carried out an execution-style slaying of a wounded Palestinian in March of last year. There was no doubt the soldier was the one who pulled the trigger. The shooting was captured live on video. The sentence of 18 months he received for killing a Palestinian is lighter than what Palestinian children are often given for throwing stones.
* Incredibly, Haley also voiced criticism of Trump–over his stance on Russia–during her congressional confirmation hearings back in January. At that time she accused Russia of “war crimes,” and said, “They (the Russians) have done some terrible atrocities.”
As Israel begins work on its “American road” project in East Jerusalem’s Jabal al-Mukaber area, hundred of Palestinians are on edge, as their homes lie directly in its path.
Part of the larger al-Touq Highway, the road is ostensibly being constructed to connect Israeli settlements north, south, and east of East Jerusalem, and cuts through sections of Jerusalem, joining the Maale Adumim and Har Homa settlements on the West Bank.
The al-Touq Highway, proposed ten years ago by Israel’s municipality planning and construction committee, will, once completed, be 230-feet wide and over 7-miles long.
Roughly 300 acres, encompassing 12 Palestinian neighborhoods in Jabal al-Mukaber, will be confiscated to build the road, which has alarmed residents of Salaa, where construction has already begun.
Salaa resident Mohammad al-Sawahra told Al Jazeera, “We are living in a state of perpetual fear…It’s as if we are living in [two different worlds]. In Palestinian areas, it is like living in the third world, while those living in settlements built on the land of Jabal al-Mukaber are offered a life of comfort like first world countries.”
Al-Sawahra received a demolition notice for his home last month, adding that, “Now, they want to build a road on the ruins of my home for themselves, as well.”
He will be one of some 500 Palestinians living in 57 homes set to be demolished for the ‘American Road’ project. Raed Basheer, with the Committee of Defence for Jabal al-Mukaber properties, told Al Jazeera, “We were surprised to hear about the project, which will be 32 metres wide, with an additional 32 metres on the sides to allow for the light rail. All of the homes, both old and new, standing in the way of the road, will be demolished.”
“In response to this plan,” Basheer said, “we reached out to the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem and managed, with difficulty, to obtain an extension on the house demolition orders for five years, provided that we submit a request every year to extend the demolition orders. But, still, we do not know whether we will be allowed to remain in our homes over the next five years.”
The project map reportedly shows the disconnection of roads that link Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods, cutting residents off from health care facilities and schools, leaving a road only to be used by Israelis.
The plan comes on the heels of a recently-passed and hotly-debated bill that retroactively legalizes thousands of Israeli homes on privately-owned Palestinian land. The “regulation” law has been called “theft’ and a “land grab” by the opposition.
About 48,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished since Israel first seized the territories in 1967.
The film, “Istiyad Ashbah” (Ghost Hunting), was produced by Palestinian filmmaker Raed Andoni.
It was one of 18 finalists competing for the top honor at the Berlinale film festival this year. The ‘Golden Bear’ award was won by Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi for the film “Testrol es lelekrol” (On Body and Soul).
Andoni’s film “Ghost Hunting” involves a powerful re-enactment of interrogation rooms and prison facilities in the infamous ‘Russian Compound’ prison run by Israel.
According to journalist Rene Windangel, who spoke with Andoni about the creation of the film, the director began by confronting his own ghosts, having been imprisoned during the first intifada in the late 1980s. He then “turned to newspaper ads as he set out to find a group of former inmates able to work as set designers and craftsmen in recreating a prison on the film set. He also sought out ex-detainees willing to play the roles of prison wardens and prisoners. And so this group of people, who had themselves experienced imprisonment, began to meticulously build their own prison.”
German commentator Rene Windangel wrote in the paper ‘Qantara’, in a review of the film, “By giving the actors and crew room to express themselves, Andoni’s film manages to avoid cliches. In no way is the film limited to the observation of suffering or the re-enactment of victimisation. Raed Andoni’s film functions as both trauma therapy and as an opportunity to discuss the political problem of prisoners. First and foremost, though, the film works as an impressive piece of cinematography dealing with the basic questions of the human condition.”
Currently there are around 7000 Palestinian men and women imprisoned by Israel. Over 750,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned since 1967 and the start of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Most were sentenced by military courts, while others were held without any charges in so-called “administrative detention”. There are practically no Palestinian families that have been spared the experience of prison.
The US and its allies have many times attacked Russia for alleged «indiscriminate bombing» in support of the Syrian government, including cluster bombs. The accusations have been denied and never proven. Now the US military has confirmed it misinformed the public about its use of munitions in Syria which cause harm to civilians.
The US military has admitted using depleted uranium (DU) anti-tank rounds on two occasions in 2015 during devastating air strikes against convoys of Islamic State (IS) tanker trucks. Investigative reporter Samuel Oakford first brought up the use of DU ammunition by the coalition in October 2016. There have been questions raised ever since.
According to US Central Command spokesman Major Josh Jacques, a total of 5,265 depleted uranium rounds were fired in combination with other incendiary rounds in 2015. The US may use the munitions again. As the official put it, «We will continue to look at all options during operational planning to defeat ISIS, this includes DU rounds».
Earlier statements maintained that the coalition would not do so. In 2015, the US military Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman John Moore said that US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve. Now one can see the statements were not true.
Depleted uranium is the byproduct of the enriched uranium needed to power nuclear reactors. It is roughly 0.7 times as radioactive as natural uranium, and its high density makes it ideal for armor-piercing rounds such as the PGU-14 and certain tank shells.
The depleted uranium munitions are known for their enhanced armor-piercing capabilities. They have been criticized for posing health risks to soldiers who fire them and to civilian populations. Some scientists and Iraqi physicians blame depleted uranium weapons used by US forces for a major increase in cancer cases and birth defects in Iraq. The munitions have been suspected to be a possible cause of «Gulf War syndrome», the name given to a collection of debilitating maladies suffered by veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Numerous studies affirm the use of the munitions in Iraq negatively affected the health of civilian population causing cancer and birth defects. When it was used during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo, the United Nations advised that children stay away from the impact zones. Recently published data from the 2003 Iraq War showed that A-10 attack aircraft used more DU against targets that were not tanks or armoured vehicles, questioning the current US justification that DU was needed in Syria. Historic data from the Gulf War also demonstrated that most armoured targets destroyed by A-10s were targeted by Maverick missiles, not DU munitions.
The UN Environment Program has conducted studies and clean-ups of areas affected by use of the munitions in conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq. It has described them as «chemically and radiologically toxic heavy metal». In 2014, a United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency report on depleted-uranium munitions said that direct contact with larger amounts of depleted uranium through the handling of scrap metal, for instance, could «result in exposures of radiological significance».
A University of Southern Maine study discovered that depleted uranium causes widespread damage to DNA, which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal’s effects on human lung cells. «Given the international opprobrium associated with the use of depleted uranium, we had been pretty astonished to hear that it had been used in operations in Syria», Doug Weir, the International Coordinator for the Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, told the Washington Post on February 16.
There is no international treaty or rule that explicitly bans the munitions’ use. Internationally, DU exists in a legal gray area. In 2012, 155 states have supported a resolution calling for a precautionary approach to depleted uranium weapons during voting at the UN General Assembly. Just four countries – the US, UK, France and Israel – voted against and 27 abstained. The resolution was informed by the UN Environment’s Program’s (UNEP) repeated calls for a precautionary approach to the use and post-conflict management of the controversial weapons. The passage of this fourth General Assembly resolution is a further challenge to the use of radioactive and chemically toxic conventional weapons that can lead to environmental contamination and humanitarian harm.
It is worth mentioning that the US has a long history of using the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) banned by international law. In 2013, Amnesty International said US drone strikes could be classified as war crimes. It is broadly believed the global use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Libya, constitutes a violation of international law.
Obviously, the US UAV warfare violates Article 51 of the UN Charter that defines the rules of self-defense because America is not attacked. International law limits self-defense against prospective threats to ones which are «imminent». The employed signature tactics are inherently in violation of the principle of distinction because it fails to identify civilian or militant. Drone attacks run against the principle of proportionality concerning unintentional civilian casualties in war. They violate Article 2 of the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War by disregarding the human rights of the innocent civilians killed in the strikes. Furthermore, the US UAV tactics conflict with International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits «arbitrary» killing even during an armed conflict. The US is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or many other international legal forums where legal action might be started. It is, however, part of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where cases can be initiated by one state against another. Conducting drone strikes in a country against its will, like in Syria, for instance, could be seen as an act of war.
So, it’s double standards again while the acts of war continue. Their justice, legality and necessity are questioned but somehow their issues don’t hit headlines of US media, while Russia does. The US blaming Russia for «indiscriminate bombing», the use of cluster bombs and other misdeeds in Syria is like the pot calling the kettle black.
Nothing in Trump’s campaign resonated with the American heartland quite like “America First”. But Trump wasn’t the first. Remember Charles Lindbergh? He put “America First” and paid the price.
Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) also wasn’t first but neither were we last. The first DYR “America First” billboard went up in Detroit in November 2015. It didn’t last long but such is Jewish power.
It re-appeared on February 6 this year near Ann Arbor, Michigan but, just one week later, DYR received a call from Adams Outdoor Advertising General Manager Mike Cannon saying that the board had to come down. Such is Jewish power.
These tactics, known as ‘Dynamic Silencing”, are well-worn and well-described by Benjamin Ginsberg in his book The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, p. 124:
Working together, officials of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the ADL would approach the publishers of major newspapers and owners of radio stations in cities where Smith [substitute any “anti-Semite”] had scheduled appearances to ask that Smith be given no coverage whosoever. If newspapers and radio stations failed to cooperate on a voluntary basis, Jewish organizations were usually able to secure their compliance by threatening boycotts by Jewish advertisers.
So where now? Try another site? Turn it into a lapel pin? Put it on a truck and drive it cross-country?
Please send any ideas to us here.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
SALFIT – Israeli forces have leveled Palestinian lands in Mesha village, to the west of Salfit province, in favor of illegal settlement expansion.
Speaking with PIC, head of Mesha village council, Sabah Amer, said Palestinian lands have been increasingly seized and leveled by the Israeli occupation forces and authorities as part of underway endeavors to expand the Qana and She’ari Tekva illegal outposts.
Researcher Khaled Maali also said Palestinian lands in the area have been confiscated to establish an Israeli university at the expense of Palestinian lands, referring to the establishment of an Israeli university in Ariel outpost, at which nearly 25,000 Israeli settlers have been enrolled, as another case in point.
According to Maali, such moves contravene international humanitarian law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the Hague Convention, which prohibit the establishment of government institutions on occupied land.
Maali added that the swift pace of illegal settlement construction led to the dismemberment of over 90% of Palestinian lands in Mesha village and the isolation of Palestinian communities behind the apartheid fence. Serious damage has also been wrought on olive trees grown by Palestinian farmers in the area.
Mesha is surrounded by three illegal Israeli settlement outposts, including Qana and She’ari Tekva.
The Israeli-Palestinian issues – settlements, ‘two-state solution’ and the American embassy’s re-location to Jerusalem – hogged the attention during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House last Wednesday. The Iran question became a sub-text.
That was rather odd, since for both ‘Bibi’ and Trump, Iran nuclear deal was a historic mistake and they’d sworn to “rip it up”. Clearly, Trump and Netanyahu took a deliberate decision to miss the historic opportunity last week to jointly tear up the Iran deal. The US-Israeli readout on their talks in the White House says:
- The President and Prime Minister agreed on the need to counter the threats posed by Iran and its proxies… so as to create a more secure Middle East to the benefit of all countries. The two leaders agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States, Israel, and the world. The President assured the Prime Minister that Iran must not, and will not, obtain nuclear weapons capability.
Again, at their joint press conference, Trump simply dodged the questions on the Iran deal – not once but twice – when asked what he intended to do about it.
The message is loud and clear: Iran nuclear deal is here to stay. A Jerusalem Post analysis noted wryly, “They may not like the deal, they may not have made it, and they may enforce it more aggressively than the Obama administration, but attempts to “rip it up” are officially over.”
The US’ European allies are pleased with Iran’s full compliance of the terms of the deal so far and, of course, they see potential trade and economic relations with Iran. Funnily enough, the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visited Washington recently to stress the importance of the Iran nuclear deal and afterwards claimed that she was assured by top Trump administration officials of their “intention to stick to the full implementation of the agreement.”
The British PM Theresa May rebuffed ‘Bibi’ when he pressed during a recent visit to London that UK should follow Trump’s lead on new sanctions against Iran over its recent missile tests. The snub is significant because the UK has been Israel’s staunchest ally in Europe. Moscow went a step further to assert the Russian-Iranian partnership, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying last Thursday,
- Our position is that Iran is a reliable, stable partner, a near neighbor. Friendly relations between Russia and Iran do not depend on external circumstances. We cooperate with Iran on many issues on various international platforms, including conducting a productive dialogue on the subject of counter-terrorism, which we will continue.
Simply put, if Trump imposes sanctions against Iran, there will be no takers in the international community. Trump also knows that this is an inopportune moment to ratchet up tensions in the Middle East by provoking Iran. (By the way, Tehran showed flexibility at the recent Astana talks where Russia, Turkey and Iran adopted a document last week to form a joint group to monitor the ceasefire in Syria and facilitate the elaboration of confidence-building measures among the warring sides.)
Of course, Tehran senses that these are early days. The Iran Daily newspaper noted in a commentary on Wednesday:
- Iran’s foreign policy apparatus has thus far taken a prudent and wise approach vis-à-vis the White House’s smear campaign. It remains to be seen whether Trump will press ahead with his anti-Iran stance, or he will come to his senses and adopt a more logical tone.
Importantly, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who was a negotiator at the P5+1 and Iran talks, told the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee on Wednesday,
- Trump may adopt any scenario, and the worst scenario is, while keeping the JCPOA (Iran deal), put pressure on the Islamic Republic, introduce new non-nuclear sanctions in order to deprive Iran of the benefits of the JCPOA.
Clearly, Iran does not want to be the one to break the deal, but it will be hard-pressed not to react to additional pressure by the Trump administration to deny it the economic benefits. Meanwhile, Iran will not mothball its missile development programme. Trust Iranian diplomacy to wear down the Trump administration. Trump holds a weak hand — and as for ‘Bibi’, Iran always thought of him as just a hot air balloon. Read a spirited interview, here, by Zarif with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Lebanese President General Michel Aoun deemed on Saturday that “the message content of Israel’s Delegate at the United Nations, Danny Danon, poses a threat to Lebanon,” adding that “the international community ought to pay attention to the possible Israeli hostile intentions against Lebanon.”
Speaking before his interlocutors at Baabda Palace this afternoon, Aoun asserted that “any Israeli attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Lebanon shall be confronted with the appropriate response.”
The President stressed that “Israel must comply with Security Council resolutions before any other, yet it still refuses to implement Resolution #1701 and the transition from the cessation of hostilities to a ceasefire stage, despite the fact that more than 11 years have passed since the release of said Resolution.”
“Israel still occupies Lebanese territories in the northern part of Ghajar, Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hilltops, while effecting daily violations of the Blue Line and Lebanese sovereignty by air and sea,” Aoun went on to indicate.
“In addition, half a million Palestinians are still forced to stay away from their homeland, hosted by Lebanon in the absence of their right to return to their land and property, which constitutes an act of aggression against Lebanon and its people,” he added.
“This act of aggression falls under the content of Article 51 of the UN Charter, which gives Lebanon and its people the natural right to defend their land,” Aoun underscored.
The President concluded that “Lebanon, which has respected all obligations towards the United Nations and its labor force in the South, views the Israeli message to the United Nations as a blatant attempt to threaten the security and stability enjoyed by the southern towns and villages located within the international area of operations, and therefore, bears full responsibility for any aggression against Lebanon.”