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Re:The evil that men do
« Reply #15 on: 2006-06-21 09:55:28 »
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Quote from: Hermit on 2006-06-21 05:25:44   
More "Evil." Blame the Victims.

Now that you think that you have an appropriate term to describe Israel's actions, what do you think is an appropriate term for those supporting Israel? In an American context, why is it illegal for Americans to provide support to most Palestinian organizations even the most charitable (because e.g. they provide support to the widows and orphans left behind by suicide bombing husbands and fathers. Which is translated to mean that they "support terrorism"), when we provide between 4 and 7 billion dollars worth of aid to the Israeli government every year? Much of it in the form of military and paramilitary equipment and materiel used to supress the Palestinians in blatant violation of US laws. Consider that we have no choice in the latter case. The US government hands over funds which are made possible by the taxes we pay. Meaning that some of my taxes go to enabling genocide and ethnic cleansing. Is there anything wrong with this picture? If not, why not?

Aristotle once said “The soul can not think without a picture.”
But looking at this one brings more a sense of acidosis or nausea then thought.
« Last Edit: 2006-06-21 10:13:04 by White Fox » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:The evil that men do
« Reply #16 on: 2006-06-22 16:57:09 »
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The Game of Consequences

And yet more Israeli state sanctioned murders happen... In the following article, please notice the interesting period-gating of "two days" (a most unusual period unless special motivation is at work). Most analysis is by the day, week or month. Perhaps in this case, that might have been bad for the image of Israel, imagine, the impact of "Another two die and thirteen are injured in the fourth Israeli state sanctioned murder of Palestinians this week". I suspect that Israel is now relying on the fact that when these murders happen on a sufficiently regular basis and under sufficiently similar circumstances, that they run into one another and can be projected (at least outside of the Palestine) as being fewer in number and less in scope than even the most cursory analysis shows. A further effect which might be being used on a deliberate basis is outrage- or sympathy-fatigue. In other words, give anyone sufficient bad news over a long enough period and they will learn to accept it as "business as usual". And thus ignore it. At least so long as it is not happening to their children. At any rate, this "gating" leaves me with the impression that Israel doesn't think anyone is able to count (probably correct) - and, or, that AP is simply accepting headlines written by the Israeli censor bureau (also probably true).

In the headline, "botched" is not an appropriate word to describe what happened, as "botched" suggests that something unplanned happened as a result of a mistake. In fact, when firing a2g missiles into populated areas, as Israel has taken to doing on a regular basis, a very high rate of death and destruction wherever the missiles land is an expected consequence. Which is why civilized people don't do this. The fact that the IDF orders aircrew to release weapons under such circumstances places the consequential damage outside of the realms of collateral damage and squarely into the deliberate targeting of civilians. I suggest this appears to be a mere extension of the Israeli practice of deploying "collective punishment" against the Palestinians. The use of "botched" in the head-line was almost certainly an Israeli (or sympathetic editor) injection, designed to appease those few squeamish westerners who actually know that all of these actions are clear breaches of International law; weakly excusing the action as “unintentional” where the person making the excuse knows it is untrue, does not expect the recipients to accept it as true, but considers this unimportant as long as the forms are pursued. And this is probably a correct conclusion. Experience has taught the Israelis that no negative consequences follow their excesses, and this has lead to a situation where these deliberate breaches of international law don't originate at the aircrew level, or even in the senior operational ranks of the IDF, but reflect a mindset which permeates both the civil and military command structure of Israel. The conception that they are engaged in a total war, in which they are committed to a defense to the death of their god given right to rule Israel, and where their gods commanded them, and necessity compels them to destroy all opposition excuses all excesses. The doctrine that the means are justified by the ends is taken to its very sickening, but eminently logical, conclusion here.

It becomes more and more probable that these ongoing murders are merely a continuation of Israel's deliberate policy of division and destabilization of the Palestinians which offers many significant benefits to Israel. Not least it permits Israel to say, all innocent like, "Well we tried to negotiate with the Palestinians [Hermit: who at last have a representative body which Israel and America have now successfully marginalized], but they wouldn't talk to us [Hermit: Primarily because Israel is arresting and murdering the leadership, while the Palestinians are quite aware that the Israelis are attempting to murder and starve the Palestinians into submission], so we are going to do what we wanted to do all along [Hermit: Nothing changes]." With active help from America and other Israeli stooges [Hermit: but I repeat myself] they will probably get away with it too. Don't get me wrong. I know that it is probably not as simple as this., but the message Israel is undoubtedly sending to the average civilian Palestinian goes along the lines of, "You voted for the wrong representatives, so we will keep killing and starving you until you do what we require of you, throw out Hamas, and agree to whatever terms we lay down permitting you to survive on whatever postage stamps we graciously leave for your use while controlling the movement of people and goods in and out of each stamp."

“We shall take tough measures, tougher and more frightening than those we took in the past.” Wonderful strategy. Tamerlane would be proud of him.

On the other hand, the supposed “balance” injected into this article of sneered-at-criticism levied at this class of activity by retired Israeli officers (dovish) and British politicians is, in my opinion, quite valid. Of course, we don't hear criticism like this from the United States. Possibly because the same criticisms also apply to American activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the same consequences, "the damage is far greater than the gain", will almost certainly follow our activities too. This is because, when horrible things happen to Israelis and Americans, despite our spending vast sums of money to attempt to avoid the consequences of our actions, it isn't because our enemies started out as terrible people. It is because one's enemies evolve to counter one's strategies. When one's structures prevent the peaceful resolution of conflicts with dignity for all participants, then those who are excluded will have recourse to methodologies outside of those structures. Calling this “terrorism” doesn't affect the underlying reality of the situation. When our strategies resemble an inhumane scorched earth policy, our enemies appear terrible indeed. This is not an instance of karma but a simple game of consequences. This should not come as news to any student of history.


2 killed in second botched Israeli strike

Source: Associated Press
Authors: Sarah el Deeb
Dated: 2006-06-21

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip - In the second botched Israeli airstrike in Gaza in two days, two people were killed and 13 were wounded when a missile hit a house Wednesday, just hours after grieving and angry Palestinians buried three children killed in a previous attack.

Militants vowed revenge, and Israelis debated the effectiveness of airstrikes that target militants but are taking a mounting toll on innocent Palestinians.

In Wednesday's attack, Israeli aircraft targeted militants in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis but hit a house instead, killing a man and a woman and wounding at least 13 people, including five children, according to hospital officials.

The dead woman was identified as Fatma Abdel Khader, 35. The man, visiting from Saudi Arabia, was identified as Zakaria Ahmed, 45.

The missile blew a hole in a wall of the one-story concrete block shack. A pool of blood covered part of the kitchen floor of the stricken house.

A witness said a car carrying Palestinian militants passed the house as the missile struck. They jumped from the car and ran into a nearby field.

A senior air force officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under military regulations, said the missile missed its target by several dozen yards.

Israel says its strikes are aimed at militants involved in daily rocket fire from Gaza against Israeli towns. The high civilian toll is stirring a debate inside Israel, with critics saying the airstrikes serve only to inflame militant passions. Targeting rocket launchers in crowded Gaza is particularly problematic during the summer, when tens of thousands of children play in the streets.

Two 5-year-olds and a 16-year-old were killed in an airstrike Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a mother collapsed in grief and an elderly man kissed a poster of his dead grandson as they buried their children.

The oldest of the three dead was Bilal al-Hassi, 16. The
Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas put up posters of the teen, calling him a "martyr."

"If they had an inch of religion, they would not have done that, not right in the middle of people," said the youth's 65-year-old grandfather, Hassan Ghandoor.

Falestin al-Sharif, mother of 5-year-old Samia al-Sharif, said her daughter had gone to get a sandwich for her disabled aunt when she was killed. The mother said she would like to become a suicide bomber to avenge her daughter's death.

"If I get my hands on an explosive belt, I would go and explode myself inside Israel to tear their hearts out for their children, like they did to me," she said.

Feeda Roka, 16, whose 5-year-old brother, Mohammed, also was killed Tuesday, likewise pledged revenge. "All Palestinians will avenge Mohammed's blood," she said.

Their funeral procession was filled with anguish and anger.

A militant grabbed a microphone and asked the crowd, "Do you want a cease-fire?" and the mourners shouted back, "No!" He was referring to a shaky February 2005 truce declared by major Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, which earlier this year took over the Palestinian parliament and Cabinet.

Militant groups pledged to increase their rocket attacks against Israel, targeting the town of Sderot, just outside Gaza's border fence.

Abu Qusai of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to Fatah, said flatly, "We will not commit to the truce." Referring to civilian deaths in earlier incidents, he added, "How can we hear the cries of these children, like the ones on the beach of Gaza, and stand idle?"

On June 9, eight Gaza beachgoers were killed in a beach blast Palestinians blamed on an Israeli artillery shell. Israel claimed it was not responsible.

On Wednesday, the military said examination of another fragment removed from the body of a wounded Palestinian receiving treatment in Israel backed up that conclusion.

Since the outbreak of the latest Palestinian uprising, or intefadeh, in 2000, Israel has killed dozens of militants in missile attacks, but hundreds of bystanders have been killed and wounded as well.

At least eight Palestinian civilians were killed in a separate Israeli airstrike last week, which came just a few days after the beach explosion.

Israeli critics questioned the wisdom of targeting militants in heavily populated areas.

Ran Cohen, a retired army officer and a lawmaker from the dovish Meretz Party, said even when Israel succeeds in killing militants, "the damage is far greater than the gain."

International criticism was quick and harsh. British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett condemned Tuesday's airstrike, saying, "The killing of innocent civilians, and particularly children, is completely unacceptable."

Palestinians and human rights groups reject the airstrikes as summary executions.

But Israel's leaders insisted they would step up their attacks to try to stop the rocket barrages, targeting leaders of militant groups. "We shall take tough measures, tougher and more frightening than those we took in the past," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday.

The botched air raids overshadowed the first tentative move toward renewed peace negotiations following Hamas' victory in parliamentary elections in January.

Olmert and Abbas are to attend a breakfast in the ancient Jordanian town of Petra on Thursday hosted by Jordan's King Abdullah ll. Efforts to get the two leaders to sit down together separately appeared doomed after the latest violence.
« Last Edit: 2006-10-27 06:47:22 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999

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Re:The evil that men do
« Reply #17 on: 2006-07-04 12:34:56 »
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In the same way that the decision that the Geneva Conventions applies to the prisoners of Guantanamo and thus that many in the US military, and in terms defined at Nuremberg and codified in US law, most especially her supreme commander, are almost certainly guilty of War Crimes punishable by death (does this not meet the definition of high crimes? It surely does not class as a misdemeanor?), was best articulated by a Republican stacked Supreme Court, it seems appropriate that an Israeli should write, and that Ha'aretz, a deservedly much awarded Israeli newspaper publish, what I consider to be the best criticism of Israel's current genocidal insanity in the litany of war crimes against and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (follows article on Swiss announcement).

Despite what appears to be a total news blackout on this issue in the US media, there is no doubt whatsoever about this latter charge. As reported in Ha'aretz, earlier today Switzerland issued an official statement on this subject.
Switzerland says Israel violating international law in Gaza Strip

Source: Ha'aretz
Authors: Not Credited (Associated Press)
Dated: 2006-07-04

Switzerland said Monday that Israel has been violating international law in its Gaza offensive by heavy destruction and endangering civilians in acts of collective punishment banned under the Geneva conventions on the conduct of warfare.

"A number of actions by the Israel Defense Forces in their offensive against the Gaza Strip have violated the principle of proportionality and are to be seen as forms of collective punishment, which is forbidden," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"There is no doubt that Israel has not taken the precautions required of it in international law to protect the civilian population and infrastructure," it said. The statement did not name the Geneva Conventions, but it referred to provisions of the 1949 treaty, which is regarded as the cornerstone of international law on the obligations of warring and occupying powers.

Switzerland, as the depository of the conventions, has a responsibility to call meetings if it finds general problems with the implementation of the treaty, but it does not have any special powers to interpret the document.

Both the principle of proportionality and the ban on collective punishment are found in the Fourth Geneva Convention, which spells out the obligations of occupying powers toward the civilian population under their control.

Israel has used tanks, troops, gunboats and aircraft to attack the Gaza area over the past week to press militants to free captured IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit.

When it launched its first large-scale military action in Gaza since the disengagement from the coastal strip last summer, Israel's declared purpose was to press militants to release Shalit. In statements since, government officials have said they also mean to disable the Hamas government and stop gunmen from launching Qassam rockets at southern Israel.

"They have criticized us even though we are showing restraint," Aviv Shir-On, Israel's ambassador in Bern, told The Associated Press. "We are disappointed that the Swiss government did not issue such statements when Israel's civilian population was constantly under attack from the Gaza Strip." [Hermit: Israel does not know the meaning of restraint. Israel has consistently killed and injured more Palestinians per week than all the Palestinian rockets ever fired have done to Israelis. Nonetheless, if this  statement by an Israeli ambassador is official, then it is very important indeed. Much as the Bush regime tried to do in Afghanistan, Israel has consistently tried to assert that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to their actions in the Palestine, due to their (ludicrous) assertion that the Palestine was not a country (the same act of the UN that established Israel also established the Palestine, so if the Palestine is not an occupied country then Israel is not either). This acknowledgment that Israel thinks that the Geneva convention should apply to the Palestinians, with the unarguable implication that the Palestine is indeed a country under (illegal) occupation by Israel (or the conventions would, in fact, not apply), thus grants the validity, by an official Israeli spokesperson, of the Swiss charges against Israel.

Shir-On said the criticism was unfair when Israel was supplying people in Gaza with electricity, water, fresh food and necessary medicine even though Hamas was sworn to the Israel's destruction.This is a deliberate lie. Even when some Israelis have generously donated a can of beans to the Palestinians, the Israeli government has stolen US$60 million a month of desperately needed Palestinian tax revenues, and has consistently acted to block aid from delivery. Israel has repeatedly targeted the generating and distribution infrastructure of the Palestine (including that needed by pumping stations), has blockaded Palestinian areas causing repeated complaints by the UN and other aid organizations that Israels actions have caused an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Even if the condition of the majority of Palestinian children did not attest to the scope of this lie (and a 2004 report by the BMJ determined that a quarter of Palestinian infants under the age of five were already acutely or chronically malnourished), then Dov Weisglass' assertion that 'The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet' certainly would.

Switzerland also called for the "rapid release" of Shalit, but said Israel had an obligation "to respect international humanitarian law in the measures it undertakes to liberate the captured soldier."

It said Israel's destruction last week of the main Gaza electricity power station and its attack on the office of the Palestinian prime minister was unjustified. It also urged Israel to free Hamas legislators, including eight ministers who have been seized.

"The arbitrary arrests of a large number of democratically elected representatives of the people and ministers ... cannot be justified," the statement said.

Switzerland said it had earmarked an additional 1 million francs ($820,000) to provide medical supplies to civilians in Gaza.
A black flag

Source: Ha'aretz
Authors: Gideon Levy
Dated: 2006-07-04

A black flag hangs over the "rolling" operation in Gaza. The more the operation "rolls," the darker the flag becomes. The "summer rains" we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria's airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.

A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the weekend lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, and in any case to the dismay of Channel 2's Roni Daniel and the IDF, will lead to a radical change.

Everything must be done to win Gilad Shalit's release. What we are doing now in Gaza has nothing to do with freeing him. It is a widescale act of vengeance, the kind that the IDF and Shin Bet have wanted to conduct for some time, mostly motivated by the deep frustration that the army commanders feel about their impotence against the Qassams and the daring Palestinian guerilla raid. There's a huge gap between the army unleashing its frustration and a clever and legitimate operation to free the kidnapped soldier.

To prevent the army from running as amok as it would like, a strong and judicious political echelon is required. But facing off against the frustrated army is Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz's tyro regime, weak and happless. Until the weekend lull, it appeared that each step proposed by the army and Shin Bet had been immediately approved for backing. That does not bode well, not only for the chances of freeing Shalit, but also for the future management of the government, which is being revealed to be as weak as the Hamas government.

The only wise and restrained voice heard so far was that of the soldier's father, Noam Shalit, of all people. That noble man called at what is clearly his most difficult hour, not for stridency and not for further damage done to the lives of soldiers and innocent Palestinians. Against the background of the IDF's unrestrained actions and the arrogant bragging of the latest macho spokesmen, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant of the Southern Command and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, Shalit's father's voice stood out like a voice crying in the wilderness.

Sending tens of thousands of miserable inhabitants running from their homes, dozens of kilometers from where his son is supposedly hidden, and cutting off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of others, is certainly not what he meant in his understated emotional pleas. It's a shame nobody is listening to him, of all people.

The legitimate basis for the IDF's operation was stripped away the moment it began. It's no accident that nobody mentions the day before the attack on the Kerem Shalom fort, when the IDF kidnapped two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from their home in Gaza. The difference between us and them? We kidnapped civilians and they captured a soldier, we are a state and they are a terror organization. How ridiculously pathetic Amos Gilad sounds when he says that the capture of Shalit was "illegitimate and illegal," unlike when the IDF grabs civilians from their homes. How can a senior official in the defense ministry claim that "the head of the snake" is in Damascus, when the IDF uses the exact same methods?

True, when the IDF and Shin Bet grab civilians from their homes - and they do so often - it is not to murder them later. But sometimes they are killed on the doorsteps of their homes, although it is not necessary, and sometimes they are grabbed to serve as "bargaining chips," like in Lebanon and now, with the Palestinian legislators. What an uproar there would be if the Palestinians had grabbed half the members of the Israeli government. How would we label them?

Collective punishment is illegitimate and it does not have a smidgeon of intelligence. Where will the inhabitants of Beit Hanun run? With typical hardheartedness the military reporters say they were not "expelled" but that it was "recommended" they leave, for the benefit, of course, of those running for their lives. And what will this inhumane step lead to? Support for the Israeli government? Their enlistment as informants and collaborators for the Shin Bet? Can the miserable farmers of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia do anything about the Qassam rocket-launching cells? Will bombing an already destroyed airport do anything to free the soldier or was it just to decorate the headlines?

Did anyone think about what would have happened if Syrian planes had managed to down one of the Israeli planes that brazenly buzzed their president's palace? Would we have declared war on Syria? Another "legitimate war"? Will the blackout of Gaza bring down the Hamas government or cause the population to rally around it? And even if the Hamas government falls, as Washington wants, what will happen on the day after? These are questions for which nobody has any real answers. As usual here: Quiet, we're shooting. But this time we are not only shooting. We are bombing and shelling, darkening and destroying, imposing a siege and kidnapping like the worst of terrorists and nobody breaks the silence to ask, what the hell for, and according to what right?
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Re:The evil that men do
« Reply #18 on: 2006-10-25 09:37:25 »
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Five minutes and Forty-Five Seconds Of Reality Building

Ostrovsky on ADL and "labeling" people



Former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky explains the collusion between ADL of B'nai B'rith and Mossad. Note: The "Pete" referred to is former US Congressman Paul "Pete" McCloskey.

[Hermit: Very interesting, catch the beginning. His first book sold 8 million copies. His second book received one review, and the public asked the newspaper to fire the reviewer for being an anti-Semite... Here is how it works.]

Ostrovsky on Mossad and Jewish loyalties



Former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky discusses brainwashing Jewish kids and the subject of loyalty.

[Hermit: Interesting. One view of how to establish "dual loyalty" or, in other words, a fifth column. He does not discuss the role of "Jewish Schools" which in my opinion are even more important.]

Ostrovsky on Israel



Former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky discusses the Jews in Israel, Judaism and the Khazars (Kuzarim in Hebrew).

[Hermit: Less interesting. What is an Israeli? The guys you see on TV beating up Arabs, they're from Brooklyn.]

And a bonus, 5:31 not included in the time above.

The Israel Lobby: Does it Have Too Much Influence on US Foreign Policy?

[Hermit: As in most debates, not much of significance is said here (interesting material is usually found towards the speculative edges and intuitive fringes of subjects, which means that it is not suitable for formal debate, as the person advancing such marginally provable positions will generally lose a debate with  competent opposition. This doesn't mean that their position has no merit and is not supportable, only that the measuring techniques may be too complex to explain to a non-specialist audience. In this particular case, the reason is different. In America, the well of people marginalized for speaking out against Israeli policies is so full of urine that nobody is prepared to examine the underlying aquifers lest they receive a golden shower by masters in the art.), but listen carefully to both the words and the sub-text (especially after Victor Ostrovsky's explanation above) to realize exactly how devastating it is to smear somebody as an anti-Semite, even when that exact phrase is not used. The reason that this is, in my opinion, well worth watching, is to observe the techniques used. In America, the environment is sufficiently sensitized by the "prior threat" of "labelling" that the "chilling effect" is palpable.]
« Last Edit: 2006-10-25 19:47:26 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999

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Re:The evil that men do
« Reply #19 on: 2006-11-04 22:50:43 »
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It just keeps getting worse...

Number of dead in Gaza reaching historic levels

Source: McClatchy Newspapers
Authors: Dion Nissenbaum (Khan Younis, Gaza Strip)
Dated: 2006-11-03

Malki Shahwan silently picks at the peach tissue she's using to dab at the tears in the corners of her opaque eyes, eyes that her family says have gone blind from grief.

In the last 12 years, Shahwan has lost three of her eight sons to the battle with Israel. Now a young nephew, a Hamas militant, has died in a clash with other Palestinian gunmen in a battle for control of the Gaza Strip.

Overcrowded, impoverished and now dominated by Islamist fundamentalists, Gaza has never been a beacon of hope in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But now an unprecedented chain of events has turned this bedraggled strip of land between Israel and Egypt into a place of unrelenting death and mayhem.

Things are so bad that the United Nations' top humanitarian official recently called the Gaza Strip a "ticking time bomb."

"When I call it a time bomb, it means that sooner or later there will be a social explosion which is even worse than the one we have today," said Jan Egeland, the United Nations' undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs.

"There is security chaos," Shahwan said while sitting below a huge poster featuring photographs of her dead sons proudly holding rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns. "There are traitors - they shoot you in the back. There are gangs."

Nearly 540 Palestinians have died in Gaza in the 14 months since Israel pulled out in September 2005 - a death rate not seen since the worst years of the intifada, the Palestinian uprising, which officially ended nearly two years ago.

Most of those have been killed in clashes with Israelis, including nearly 400 who've been killed in the four months since Israel launched a military offensive aimed at winning the release of a kidnapped soldier. Nearly 40 died in fighting between Hamas and the Fatah faction, which had dominated the Palestinian government until January.

There are few signs of hope. The Palestinian government remains paralyzed by inertia and international isolation, the fragile economy has buckled, and the number of Westerners willing to work in Gaza is dwindling in the face of increasingly menacing kidnappers.

There's been no movement toward the release of the Israeli soldier, and Palestinian groups continue to fire dozens of largely ineffective homemade rockets into southern Israel. That's prompted the Israeli military to threaten even tougher steps.

In the latest clash on Friday, Israeli forces opened fire on a group of unarmed Palestinian women who flocked to a mosque in Beit Hanoun to try to protect a group of militants trapped inside. At least two women were killed, sparking outrage from Palestinian leaders, who denounced the attack.

With few reasons for optimism, some specialists in the region are beginning to wonder if the deteriorating conditions will spark a third Palestinian revolt.

"Our commissioner general some time ago said that if we continue in this course, then we must be concerned that the next generation will lead the next intifada," said John Ging, the head of the Gaza office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

"We know that poverty and violence go hand in hand, and radicalism is born from that environment," said Ging, whose agency provides assistance to many of Gaza's residents. "That is our principle concern going forward."

The most immediate crisis facing Gaza residents is the Israeli siege that was imposed after Hamas-led militants tunneled into Israel and captured an Israeli soldier at a military outpost on June 25.

Israel responded by bombing the area's only power plant, destroying key bridges, attacking government offices, arresting Palestinian lawmakers, closing the borders and launching a prolonged, low-level military operation. Nearly 400 Palestinians died, according to statistics compiled by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, compared with five Israelis, two of whom were killed on the Gaza border.

Gaza residents are familiar with Israeli military campaigns. But now they're also facing a threat from internal fighting.

Of the 538 Palestinians killed in Gaza since Israel razed its Gaza settlements, 38 died in internal clashes. While internecine fighting has broken out before, Gaza residents such as the Shahwans have never experienced the kind of protracted problems that are putting new strains on the fraying social network.

The first thing to greet visitors in the Shahwan family home in Khan Younis is a large poster of the three dead brothers, who are hailed as Hamas martyrs.

Recently, the family was forced to hang a new one in honor of a 21-year-old cousin, Wasfe, a Hamas militant who they say was killed by Fatah gunmen while heading off on a night patrol.

"We never expected him to die like this," said Shahwan's husband, Mohammed. "The threats from the Israelis are known to us and we know how to take care. But when the threat is from a neighbor or a relative? It's more dangerous."

Hamas and Fatah have tried several times to contain the factional fighting, but each call for unity has been followed by new fighting. Gunmen recently fired on Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's convoy. Hamas tried to downplay the Oct. 20 attack as a random shooting and not an attempted assassination. But even so, it was an ominous reminder of the daily dangers in Gaza.

Plans to form a Hamas-Fatah unity government have bogged down, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying he won't form the new coalition until Hamas-led militants release the captured Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Hamas is refusing to release Shalit until Israel agrees to free important Palestinian prisoners.

Israel is refusing to stop its attacks in Gaza until Shalit is released and the rocket fire from Gaza ends. The United States is backing Israel in its refusal to talk to the Hamas-led Palestinian government until it abandons its longstanding vow to destroy Israel.

Amid the inertia, Israel is warning that it might move troops back along Egypt's border with Gaza, claiming that Hamas has been using tunnels along the border to smuggle in anti-tank weapons. Israel has offered no evidence to support the claim, but some in Gaza believe that Hamas is stockpiling arms - not to fight Israel, but to fend off a possible Fatah-led military coup or civil war.

Last month, Egypt moved 5,000 security forces to the border region in anticipation of Israeli action.

"We've continued to send out the alarm bells that the situation is getting worse and worse, and it just seems to continue to get worse and worse on the ground," said UNRWA's Ging. "For the people living in Gaza it's a disaster. And it's a crisis."
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Re:The evil that men do
« Reply #20 on: 2006-11-08 12:38:30 »
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Palestinian leader condemns attack

Source: Mercury News Wire Services
Authors: Not Credited (Washington Post and the Associated Press)
Dated: 2006-11-08
Dateline: Gaza City, Gaza Strip

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said today that efforts to form a national unity government are suspended after Israeli tank shells killed 18 people in the Gaza Strip.

According to witnesses, all those killed were women and children. Palestinian hospital officials said dozens of wounded people were being treated at four Gaza hospitals. Palestinian security officials said that five tank shells landed in the area within 15 minutes.

Haniyeh made the announcement at an emergency meeting of his Cabinet.

"In a protest of this awful massacre, the prime minister's office is announcing the suspension of discussions to form a national unity government," Haniyeh said.

The shelling came after Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 15 people following a pullout from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun at the end of a bloody weeklong sweep. Most Israeli forces withdrew before dawn, ending a six-day military operation that killed more than 60 Palestinians, more than half of them from the armed groups at war with the Jewish state.

Some Israeli soldiers remain in north Gaza, the main launch site for crude rockets that Palestinian gunmen frequently fire into Israel. Armed Palestinians and Israeli forces clashed several times in the hours after most Israeli tanks and troops left the northern strip, leaving at least seven Palestinians dead.

The Israeli push into Beit Hanoun, an agricultural town of roughly 28,000 people, was designed to stop the rocket fire into Israel. The rockets, known generically as Qassams, pack little explosive force and rarely kill Israelis.

The frequency of the rocket fire has been declining in recent months, but remains a daily menace to tens of thousands of Israelis who live near the Gaza border. The number of rockets that landed in and around the city of Sederot spiked during the operation, slightly injuring several Israelis.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said military operations, usually airstrikes and artillery fire, would continue until the rocket attacks end. The Israeli military reported that five rockets landed in southern Israel -- four in Ashkelon north of Gaza -- after it declared the operation over.

In a statement announcing the troop withdrawal, the Israeli military said it had seized "large amounts of weaponry" during the operation, which it dubbed "Autumn Clouds." The war material seized included Qassam launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, mines, assault rifles and ammunition.

Israeli forces did not recover any sophisticated anti-tank weapons or Katyusha rockets, which military officials have warned are being smuggled into Gaza by the military wing of Hamas, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades. The military said "dozens" of Palestinians were taken to Israel for questioning.

Palestinian health officials said 62 Palestinians, more than a third of them civilians, were killed in the Israeli operation and in fighting Tuesday as the bulk of the troops departed. The four largest armed groups said 37 of their gunmen were killed, the majority from Hamas' military wing. More than 250 Palestinians were wounded, health officials said.

A small number of Israeli tanks remained around the edge of Beit Hanoun, and Palestinian witnesses said a column of tanks and bulldozers moved into a coastal strip west of the city of Beit Lahiya where forces operated in June and July against rocket launch sites.

After most tanks left the strip, Israeli military officials said, soldiers fired at two armed Palestinians near Beit Lahiya. The two men, identified as members of the Islamic Jihad movement, were killed.
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« Reply #21 on: 2006-11-11 16:42:02 »
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U.S. vetoes condemnation of Gaza strikes

[Hermit: So we do it again. Deliberately placing ourselves and whoever's arms we can twist to join us, or at least stay silent, to support Israel's ongoing genocide of the Palestinians. And some Americans still wonder why they are hated in the Middle East - or  why Bolton needs to go?]

Source: The Associated Press
Authors: Justin Bergman (Associated Press Writer)
Dated: 2006-11-11

The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution Saturday that sought to condemn an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and demand Israeli troops pull out the territory.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the Arab-backed draft resolution was "biased against Israel and politically motivated."

"This resolution does not display an evenhanded characterization of the recent events in Gaza, nor does it advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace to which we aspire and for which we are working assiduously," he told the Security Council.

The draft received 10 votes in favor and four abstentions, along with the U.S. vote against. Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia all abstained.

It was the second U.S. veto this year of a Security Council draft resolution concerning Israeli military operations in Gaza. The U.S. blocked action on a document this summer after Israel launched its offensive in response to the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas-linked Palestinian militants.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the resolution was "very one-sided."

"It's good that it wasn't accepted by the Security Council," he said.

Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour said he was disappointed by the vote.

"You have conveyed today two wrong messages," he told the Security Council. "For Israel, you have conveyed to them they can continue to behave above international law. For the Palestinian people, you have conveyed that justice is not being dealt with in a proper way."

Qatar's Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser said the failure of the Security Council to act on the draft will lead to continued Israeli violence against Palestinians.

"Any lukewarm reaction or response on our part gives the impression we are shirking from our humanitarian responsibilities," said Al-Nasser, who sponsored the resolution on behalf of the Palestinians.

Palestinians strengthened calls for Security Council action earlier this week after an early morning Israeli artillery barrage in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun killed 19 people Wednesday.

In an open session of the General Assembly on Thursday, Mansour called the attack "state terrorism" and said the perpetrators should be held accountable under international law for war crimes.

Israel has expressed regret for the loss of life in Beit Hanoun but has said it will continue operations to stop militants from launching rockets into Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to visit Washington on Sunday to meet with President Bush.

The draft resolution had been weakened slightly in recent days to help improve its chances of passage. A section was added demanding the Palestinian Authority take immediate action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets into Israel.

It also called for the U.N. secretary-general to establish a "fact-finding mission" to probe Wednesday's attack in Beit Hanoun, a step below ordering a full investigation.

In addition, it backed off calls for U.N. observers to be placed on the Gaza-Israel border, asking instead for the "possible establishment of an international mechanism for protection of the civilian populations."

But in his remarks to the Security Council, Bolton said the draft was still too one-sided. He said it compared legal Israeli military operations with the firing of rockets into Israel _ an act of terrorism. He called the fact-finding mission unnecessary and said the text failed to condemn the ruling Hamas party's refusal to renounce terrorism.Hermit: Notice that by this standard it seems that there is no action that the Palestinians can take which will be legal in the eyes of the US - except to continue to either submit to Israel's blatantly unfair demands or to suffer and die. Conversely, in the eyes of the US there is no crime which Israel can commit in its actions against the Palestinians.]

Both Bolton and Deputy British Ambassador Karen Pierce voiced support for returning to the internationally backed "road map" peace plan, which has been stalled for years.

But Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution[Hermit: Not known as a "liberal" organization], said the fact that the council allowed the draft to go to a vote showed the world's frustration with the U.S. not involving other members of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators in recent decisions on Israel. The other members are the U.N., the European Union and Russia.

"They don't have a stake in the talks and they are more willing now to force our hand," he said. "A lot of times the world has felt (the U.S.) has been too pro-Israel, but in this case, people are just fed up."

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« Reply #22 on: 2006-11-18 02:25:59 »
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Nine Israeli human rights organizations speak out about Gaza

Source: Electronic Intifada
Authors: Not Credited
Dated: 2006-11-17
Related Links:
Gaza humanitarian crisis - a joint statement by Israel's leading human rights organizations

Nine Israeli human rights organizations issued an unprecedented joint call to the international community to ensure human rights in the Gaza Strip. The statement comes in light of the dire humanitarian situation there:

  • Some 80% of the population is extremely poor, living on less than $2 a day. A majority of the population is dependant on food aid from international donors.

  • In the past four months, the Israeli military has killed over 300 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Over half of those killed were unarmed civilians who did not participate in the fighting. Among the dead, 61 were children.

  • About 70% of Gaza's potential workforce is out of work or without pay.

  • On 28 June, Israel bombed Gaza's only independent power station, which produced 43% of the electricity needed by the residents in Gaza. Since then, most of the population has electricity between 6 and 8 hours each day, with disastrous consequences on water supply, sewage treatment, food storage, hospital functioning and public health.

  • The Gaza Strip is almost entirely sealed off from the outside world, with virtually no way for Palestinians to get in or out. Exports have been reduced to a trickle; imports are limited to essential humanitarian supplies.

  • Israel cannot shirk its responsibility for this growing crisis. Even after its Disengagement in 2005, Israel continues to hold decisive control over central elements of Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip:

  • Israel continues to maintain complete control over the air space and territorial waters.

  • Israel continues to control the joint Gaza Strip-West Bank population registry, preventing relocation between the West Bank and Gaza, and family unification.

  • Israel controls all movement in and out of Gaza, with exclusive control over all crossing points between Gaza and Israel, and the ability to shut down the Rafah crossing to Egypt.

  • Israeli ground troops conduct frequent military operations inside Gaza .

  • Israel continues to exercise almost complete control over imports and exports from the Gaza Strip.

  • Israel controls most elements of the taxation system of the Gaza Strip, and since February has withheld tax monies legally owed to the PA, and amounting to half of the to tal PA budget.

The broad scope of Israeli control in the Gaza Strip creates a strong case for the claim that Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip continues, along with an obligation to ensure the welfare of the civilian population. Regardless of the legal definition of the Gaza Strip, Israel bears legal obligations regarding those spheres that it continues to control. Israel has the right to defend itself. However, all military measures taken by Israel must respect the provisions of international humanitarian law.

The following Israeli human rights organizations call on the international community to ensure that Israel respects the basic human rights of residents of the Gaza Strip, and that all parties respect international humanitarian law:

    B'Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
    Association for Civil Rights in the Israel
    Amnesty International - Israel Section
    Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights
    HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual
    Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement
    Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
    Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
    Rabbis for Human Rights

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« Reply #23 on: 2006-11-19 09:42:31 »
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Send Hamas leaders 'to paradise': Israeli deputy PM

Hermit: Israel succeeds in making Nazi Germany appear compassionate.

Source: CBC News
Authors: Not Credited
Dated: 2006-11-18

Leaders of the Hamas militant movement should be assassinated and moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is "irrelevant," Israel's deputy prime minister said Saturday.

The comments by Avigdor Lieberman came as the rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Abbas's Fatah, continued talks on forming a unity government.

The leaders of Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories last January, should be "sent to paradise," Lieberman told Israel radio, "all of them. On this there should be no compromise."

He also called for Israel to ignore international pressure efforts to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, and said his country should abandon earlier agreements under the Oslo accords and the "road map" to peace promoted by U.S. President George Bush.

Both call for a separate Palestinian state that exists alongside a secure Israel.

"A continuation of Oslo, of the road map … will lead us to another round of conflict," Lieberman said, "a much more bloody round, and in the end to an even deeper deadlock, and it threatens our future."

Abbas scorned

He called Abbas a weak, ineffective leader who should be spurned by Israel while tougher military action is taken to prevent rocket attacks from Gaza.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Lieberman's views were not shared by other members of the cabinet.

"His comments are his own," said Miri Eisin, "They do not reflect Israeli policy." [Hermit: Knowing that he advocated ethnic cleansing and genocide, Olmert invited him into his cabinet, giving Lieberman a key post. This means that his assertions cannot be blithely discounted. Particularly when what is happening to Hamas and the Palestinians as a whole supports the view that Lieberman's policies are already in effect.]

Lieberman, the newest member of Olmert's cabinet, is head of the right- wing Yisrael Beitenu party and is known for hardline views on almost all of Israel's security issues.

Lieberman was born in the former Soviet republic of Moldova and is popular among members of Israel's increasingly influential Russian Jewish community.
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« Reply #24 on: 2006-11-19 22:41:47 »
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Report: Olmert orders targeting of Hamas leadership

[Hermit: The story above this one has Olmert's spokesman denying that Liberman's assertion that the leaders of Hamas should all be "sent to paradise" is Israeli policy. Yet here, in a simultaneous report, we hear that Olmert instructed the defense leadership to kill the political leaders of Hamas, and indeed, the web is abuzz with stories of Israeli aircraft attacking civilian targets over the weekend. Ultimately the joke is on the Palestinians for electing "the wrong government", still I wonder what these two were laughing about and how much it is going to cost America?]

caption: Now, Bush and Olmert Celebrating. What can they possibly be this cheerful about?

[Hermit: The last time two world leaders were this happy together, Mussolini and Hitler had just decided to carve up Europe. Judging the relative mirth, it seems that something really worthwhile is being decided here. See for yourself.]

caption: Then, Hitler and Mussolini looking almost obscenely happy in each other's arms. Perhaps they had just discovered the meaning of true love?

British newspaper 'The Sunday Times' reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructs heads of defense establishment to target members of Hamas political leadership in desperate attempt to stop Qassam rockets. Israeli security officials reported to newspaper that Israel will no longer allow Hamas political leadership in West Bank, Gaza Strip, and abroad to 'escape responsibility'

Source: Ynet
Authors: Not Credited (AFP)
Dated: 2006-11-19

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed the heads of the defense establishment to target members of the Hamas leadership. This was reported by British newspaper The Sunday Times. Israeli security sources reported to the newspaper that the decision was made in cooperation with Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

According to the report, the decision was made on the background of the fatal Qassam rocket that landed Wednesday in Sderot that killed Faina Slotzker and robbed one of Peretz's bodyguards of his legs. After the incident, the newspaper writes, Israel decided in a desperate attempt to stop the Qassam rockets, not to allow Hamas political leadership in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and abroad to "escape responsibility" any longer.

The Sunday Times reported that Peretz was the one who advocated the change in tactics against Hamas. According to the report, the defense minister broke out in tears when he heard that one of his bodyguards was seriously wounded by rocket shrapnel and that his legs were amputated. The young man was injured while guarding Peretz's house in Sderot.

Since the IDF completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip during the disengagement, Israel has avoided physically hurting the political leadership of Hamas, and instead focused on targeting only those active in the military wing of the organization. [Hermit: Do you believe this shit? "completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip", "disengagement", "avoided physically hurting  the political leadership"! Who do they imagine they are fooling? Other than Faux TV watchers of course.]

However, the Israelis moves have yet to stop the rockets. Saturday night, the firing continued and two Qassam rockets were fired into a western Negev town. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.

Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Hamas leaders "have to disappear, go to paradise, all of them."

In an interview with Voice of Israel, the minister explained: " There is no point in targeting refugee camps and Beit Hanoun and all such places. For those people, who live on ten shekels a day, there is nothing to lose. When they are killed, they recruit themselves gladly. We have to focus on those who have something to lose - the leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.”

The British newspaper mentioned Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin's comments that he made last week in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "The Gaza Strip is about to turn into the biggest terrorist compound on earth. We have no choice but to consider a massive military operation there," Diskin said.

Diskin recommended trying to strengthen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, because he is widely viewed as a moderate and an antidote to the increasingly rampant extremism amongst the Palestinians. [Hermit: And if Israel imagines that their support for a corrupt puppet politician will gain him credibility amongst the Islamic population, or indeed amongst the terminally cynically Israelis, then Shin Bet has lost its touch. If, like me, you don't think Shin Bet has lost its touch then perhaps your conclusion will, like mine, be that Israel's targets for this program are in Europe and the US.]
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Re:The evil that men do
« Reply #25 on: 2006-11-20 01:23:15 »
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"The Gaza Strip is about to turn into the biggest terrorist compound on earth. "

[Blunderov] Once again we see the use of the passive voice in order to avoid naming the agent of the verb. De rigeur in academic language though this is, no lawyer or judge worth his salt would ever let it go by unchallenged.

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« Reply #26 on: 2006-12-02 10:17:45 »
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UN: Israel breaks border agreement

Source: al Jazeerah
Authors: Laila El-Haddad (Rafah crossing)
Dated: 2006-11-30

External Links:
The OCHA report (PDF) : The Agreement on Movement and Access One Year On

A UN report has accused Israel of breaking all provisions in a year-old US-brokered agreement on Gaza's border crossings, as Condoleezza Rice visits the region.

The Agreement on Movement and Access, signed last November after the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, was meant to facilitate the movement of Palestinians and goods in and out of Gaza.
It also promised Palestinian control over the Rafah crossing into Egypt by November 2006, after a transitional year of EU monitoring and Israeli video surveillance.

At the time, the border agreement was hailed by Rice, the US secretary of state, as a breakthrough.
She said the agreement would "give the Palestinian people freedom to move, to trade, to live ordinary lives".

But according to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Palestinians are worse off than they were a year ago, in terms of their freedom of movement and their overall economic situation.

Restrictions on access

The report said that access restrictions remained at the Gaza crossings.

"The ability of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip to access either the West Bank or the outside world remains extremely limited and the flow of commercial trade is negligible.

"Movement within the West Bank is also more restricted. There has been no peaceful economic development as envisaged by the AMA but rather a deterioration in the humanitarian situation and an increase in violence overall," the report says.

According to the report, unemployment in Gaza has risen from 33.1 per cent to 41.8 per cent over the course of the year.
Rice is expected to bring up implementation of the agreement in discussions with Abbas and Olmert.


The UN report accuses Israel of violating every provision of the borders agreement to which it signed up, including the operation of the Rafah crossing.

Under the terms of the Agreement on Movement and Access, Israel had agreed to operate the Rafah crossing and other Gaza commercial crossings continuously, and to not close passages because of security incidents unrelated to the crossing itself.

Rafah, which is the only passageway for Gaza's 1.4 million residents, was shut down indefinitely by Israel on June 24 after Palestinian fighters attacked an Israeli military base, killing two soldiers and capturing another.

According to the UN report, it has been open for only 21 days since - 14 per cent of the scheduled operating days. A military document leaked to the Israeli daily Haaretz in August suggested that the continued closure was intended to apply pressure on Gaza residents until progress was made in returning the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Israeli officials provided no comment on the matter to Al Jazeera despite numerous attempts.


The crossing is Gaza's gateway to the world. Without it, patients cannot get medical treatment unavailable in Gaza; students cannot reach universities abroad; family members are separated from each other, and Gaza residents, 85 per cent of whom live in poverty, cannot reach places of work.

As a result of the continuing closure, 1.4 million Palestinians have become hermetically sealed into Gaza, and about 3,200 others remain trapped outside, Palestinian border officials say.

Use of the passage has been restricted to residents of the Gaza Strip carrying Israeli-issued Palestinian identity documents, despite agreement to allow numerous other categories access.

Non-ID card-holders, such as foreign-passport holders, Palestinian refugees living outside Gaza, or even residents of the West Bank, cannot use the crossing.

The movement of people between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank also remains virtually impossible, the report says, and the two areas have become more isolated from one another than ever before.

Israel had promised to allow convoys to transport Palestinian people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank by the end of 2005, but reneged on the agreement, the OCHA says.

Commercial losses

In addition, Gaza's main commercial crossing - al-Mintar, or Karni - has been closed for more than half the year, it says. An average of 12 lorries a day carring Palestinian goods has been allowed out of Gaza. Israel had promised to raise the number to 400 by the end of this year.

Less than four per cent of the Palestinian harvest was exported as a consequence, and hundreds of tonnes of produce spoiled or was dumped on the local market, crippling the local economy. Palestinian agriculture, one of Gaza's primary sectors, suffered $30m in losses as a result of the closure.

David Shearer, head of the OCHA, said: "Thousands and thousands of people have been stopped from moving - students, medical cases, people who have come to visit families, people returning from holidays ….

"From a humanitarian point of view, it's a major crisis for these people who are effectively trapped within and outside of Gaza."
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« Reply #27 on: 2006-12-09 11:57:05 »
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Speaking frankly about Israel and Palestine

Jimmy Carter says his recent book is drawing knee-jerk accusations of anti-Israel bias.

Source: LA Times
Authors: Jimmy Carter
Dated: 2006-12-08

JIMMY CARTER was the 39th president of the United States. His newest book is "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," published last month. He is scheduled to sign books Monday at Vroman's in Pasadena.

I SIGNED A CONTRACT with Simon & Schuster two years ago to write a book about the Middle East, based on my personal observations as the Carter Center monitored three elections in Palestine and on my consultations with Israeli political leaders and peace activists.

We covered every Palestinian community in 1996, 2005 and 2006, when Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas were elected president and members of parliament were chosen. The elections were almost flawless, and turnout was very high — except in East Jerusalem, where, under severe Israeli restraints, only about 2% of registered voters managed to cast ballots.

The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations — but not in the United States. For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.

It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians.
Very few would ever deign to visit the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or even Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents. What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.

With some degree of reluctance and some uncertainty about the reception my book would receive, I used maps, text and documents to describe the situation accurately and to analyze the only possible path to peace: Israelis and Palestinians living side by side within their own internationally recognized boundaries. These options are consistent with key U.N. resolutions supported by the U.S. and Israel, official American policy since 1967, agreements consummated by Israeli leaders and their governments in 1978 and 1993 (for which they earned Nobel Peace Prizes), the Arab League's offer to recognize Israel in 2002 and the International Quartet's "Roadmap for Peace," which has been accepted by the PLO and largely rejected by Israel.

The book is devoted to circumstances and events in Palestine and not in Israel, where democracy prevails and citizens live together and are legally guaranteed equal status.[Hermit: But the unfortunate reality is that the differences in innumerable areas, e.g. facilities, assets, freedom and income, between Jew and Arab in Israel is greater than between Afrikaner and Black in Apartheid South Africa.]

Although I have spent only a week or so on a book tour so far, it is already possible to judge public and media reaction. Sales are brisk, and I have had interesting interviews on TV, including "Larry King Live," "Hardball," "Meet the Press," "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," the "Charlie Rose" show, C-SPAN and others. But I have seen few news stories in major newspapers about what I have written.

Book reviews in the mainstream media have been written mostly by representatives of Jewish organizations who would be unlikely to visit the occupied territories, and their primary criticism is that the book is anti-Israel. Two members of Congress have been publicly critical. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for instance, issued a statement (before the book was published) saying that "he does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel." Some reviews posted on Amazon.com call me "anti-Semitic," and others accuse the book of "lies" and "distortions." A former Carter Center fellow has taken issue with it, and Alan Dershowitz called the book's title "indecent."

Out in the real world, however, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I've signed books in five stores, with more than 1,000 buyers at each site. I've had one negative remark — that I should be tried for treason — and one caller on C-SPAN said that I was an anti-Semite. My most troubling experience has been the rejection of my offers to speak, for free, about the book on university campuses with high Jewish enrollment and to answer questions from students and professors. I have been most encouraged by prominent Jewish citizens and members of Congress who have thanked me privately for presenting the facts and some new ideas.

The book describes the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine's citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank. An enormous imprisonment wall is now under construction, snaking through what is left of Palestine to encompass more and more land for Israeli settlers. In many ways, this is more oppressive than what blacks lived under in South Africa during apartheid. I have made it clear that the motivation is not racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis to confiscate and colonize choice sites in Palestine, and then to forcefully suppress any objections from the displaced citizens. Obviously, I condemn any acts of terrorism or violence against innocent civilians, and I present information about the terrible casualties on both sides.[Hermit: Although one should bear in mind that 10 Palestinians are killed and 200 injured for each Israeli killed, that this ratio has been increasing, and that most Israelis over 18 are in fact members of the militia occupying the Palestine and thus, in the terms the US proposed at Nuremberg and later wrote into International law when drafting and ratifying the Grand Charter of the UN, legitimate targets for irregular resistance fighters - which - all later labeling not withstanding, the armed wings of the PLO, Hamas and other even more radical organizations, represent.].

The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and to help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this same goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort.
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« Reply #28 on: 2006-12-18 11:23:26 »
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Ex-soldiers break `silence' on Israeli excesses

Yehuda Shaul tells Haroon Siddiqui `something rotten' is going on in Gaza and the West Bank

Source: The Toronto Star
Authors: Haroon Siddiqui
Dated: 2006-12-17

A young Israeli was in Canada last week raising ethical questions about the conduct of Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories.

Yehuda Shaul was born in Jerusalem to an American mother and Canadian father (from Toronto). Shaul went to school in a West Bank settlement and served in the army from 2001 to 2004. He did a 14-month stint in Hebron, guarding about 650 settlers living among approximately 150,000 Palestinians.

He is one of the founders of Break the Silence, a group of ex-soldiers speaking out about what they saw and did during their tour of duty in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

At 6-foot 1-inch, the heavy-set Shaul cuts an imposing but engaging figure with his beard, ponytail and the kippa. He smiles easily.

He had a lot to say during a vegetarian kosher lunch we shared in my office with his Toronto host, Judith Wiseman.

He came here after a tour of six American cities. In Toronto, he spoke at the Winchevsky Centre of the United Jewish People's Order and at the Quaker House. Then he was off to London, Ottawa and Montreal.

He recounted the moment when, three months before being released from the army, he was alone and wondering what he would do upon returning to civilian life.

It struck him, he said, that he had become "a monster," doing things that were not right. "It was a frightening moment."

He spoke to fellow soldiers. "They were feeling the same: `Something's rotten here.' Israelis don't know what goes on here, and we must tell them.'"

Within three months of being discharged in March 2004, Shaul and friends mounted an exhibit, Bringing Hebron to Tel Aviv. It had powerful photos and video testimony by 64 soldiers showing and describing the treatment meted out to Palestinians by the troops as well as some of the settlers.

There were pictures of Palestinians bound and blindfolded. There was a photo of a settler carrying an assault rifle with a decal on the magazine clip: "Kill 'em all, Let God sort 'em out." Another was of graffiti on a wall: "Arabs to the gas chamber."

The exhibit drew 7,000 visitors and much media coverage.

Other soldiers who had served in the West Bank and Gaza came forward. More photos were gathered, as well as about 400 audio and video testimonies.

In them, soldiers talk about the total power of the occupiers over the occupied — throwing Palestinians out of their homes; making them stand for hours for disobeying the curfew or trying to bypass a checkpoint or even smiling or arguing at the wrong time, Shaul said.

"We can play with them. This is the mindset from which everything flows."

In Hebron, Shaul manned a machine gun. "It can shoot dozens of grenades a minute up to a distance of about 2,000 metres. We'd shoot 40 or 50 a day ...

"We had three high posts, two where we had kicked the Palestinian families out of and the third was a Palestinian school which we had closed down.

"The idea was that anytime they shoot, we shoot back.

"But the machine gun is not an accurate weapon. You just shoot in the direction of the target ... We have no idea how many we killed. I hope no one."

Shaul said some acts "flow from being afraid or being bored. You are there eight hours a night at the post. You just aim and shoot the water tank."

Or, "when you drive your tank or your APC (armoured personnel carrier), you bump into a streetlight. As you turn a corner, you bump into a wall. It's fun ... It's all about you. Nothing else matters ... Palestinians are no longer human."

Initially, Break the Silence members did not speak to foreigners, to avoid "airing our dirty laundry." But they have since changed their policy.

Two members toured the United States last year. Two exhibitions have been held in Geneva and Amsterdam.

The group (http://www.shovrimshtika.org and http://www.breakthesilence.org.il) exists to break two kinds of silences: "First, the soldiers keep quiet and, then Israeli society keeps quiet.

"We provide the tools for people to understand the deeply woven moral corruption and numbness of what we do (in the Occupied Territories). It's like a slide; once you start going down, you keep going down.

"There's no such thing as a benign or an enlightened occupation. You can't be an occupier and not be an occupier."

Shaul's overall message:

"The issue is not the right of Israel to exist but rather, does it have the right to occupy Palestinian lands and control civilians as it has for 40 years?"

Shaul said he has been well-received in North America, even though some did criticize him.

But, "you can't really criticize me because I am an Israeli who has served in the army."

He's much more: a courageous citizen of Israeli democracy.
« Last Edit: 2006-12-18 16:10:51 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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