Archive for the Operation Cast Lead Category

Is/was there a genocide in Palestine?

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, History, IDF, Israel, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, War crimes on 09/02/2010 by 3071km

Palestine_Holocaust_Dead_Children

Date Published: February 8, 2010

Source: The palestine Telegraph, by Sameh Habeeb

 Having commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day with survivor Hajo Meyer and some other Jewish friends after a talk at Goldsmith University last week, it is clear to me that Palestinians have many common experiences with the survivors of the Holocaust.

Meyer’s imprisonment in the ghetto and ordeal at checkpoints is a stereotypical image in occupied Palestine. I was personally amazed to hear him admit that Palestinians’ suffering is close to that of the Holocaust. I was amazed because I heard it not from a Palestinian, but from a Jewish man who has suffered a lot.

For a long time, it has been widely argued that genocide has not been committed in Palestine. While some “left-leaning” media outlets say there was genocide, one that is still in progress, the Israeli narrative rejects the use of this term for the Palestinian experience. Without doubt, the Germans perpetrated genocide against the Jews in WWII. Around 6 million Jews were killed across Europe in an act that can never be tolerated by humanity. It was a huge crime.

There have, however, been genocides against many other people, such as the American Indians and the Armenians, which must also be remembered. Most of these genocides are on a smaller scale than the Holocaust, but surely the fact that genocide has occurred must be condemned no matter what the scale. Indeed, this seems to be the feeling of many Holocaust survivors themselves. They believe it is crucial to recognize, condemn and fight genocide wherever it is happening no matter whether it involves a few thousand or millions. 

The core question here is whether the Palestinians suffered genocide perpetrated by the government of Israel. Has Israel attempted to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from its land? Is the term genocide legally applicable? Readers must make their own judgment.

In 1944, Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin coined the word “genocide” by combining “geno,” from the Greek word for race or tribe, with “cide” from the Latin word for killing. He proposed that genocide consists of “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.”

Has this happened in Palestine? According to the history of the founding of Israel, thousands of violent actions have been committed against one group of people: Palestinians. More than 535 villages were destroyed, thousands of residents were massacred and around 800,000 people were driven from their homes by force or fear of force. This process is described by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé and others as ‘the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.’ If genocide is essentially the annihilation of a group, surely this is genocide.

On Dec. 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This convention establishes “genocide” as an international crime, which signatory nations “undertake to prevent and punish.” It defines genocide this way:  Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:

Killing members of the group.
In 1948, thousands of Palestinians were exterminated by terrorist Jewish groups like the Stern, Haganah and Irgun. Other villagers were told to leave or they would be killed. The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948. More than 100 villagers, including women and children, were annihilated. Some were shot with live ammunition, while others burned to death as rockets rained down on the village. Prisoners were killed after being paraded through the streets in occupied Jerusalem. And it didn’t stop in 1948. In 1956, a massacre of 500 villagers took place in Khan Younis in the middle of the Gaza Strip. Others killed were Egyptians who were policing the area at that time.

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.
The deadly siege in Gaza could easily be considered genocide according to this descriptor. Bodily harm has been caused not only during the siege or the last invasion (December 2008/January 2009), but since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The overwhelming majority of the victims have been civilians, whereas only a small minority were resistance fighters. Some international agencies claim that 93 percent of those victimized were civilian, while only 7% were resistance fighters. (See the report, “Failing Gaza.“)

Organized and systematic attacks against civilians in Gaza can also be considered to be part of the genocide. Several months before Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli minister even used the term “holocaust” to describe what is planned for the citizens of Gaza. On Feb. 28, 2008, the Guardian, BBC and other British media outlets reported the story under the headline, “Israeli minister warns of Palestinian ‘holocaust’.” The Guardian reported that “an Israeli minister today warned of an  increasingly bitter conflict in the Gaza Strip, saying the Palestinians could bring on themselves what he called a “holocaust”.

“The more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves,” Matan Vilnai, Israel’s deputy defence minister, told Army Radio.

“Shoah” is the Hebrew word normally reserved to refer to the Jewish Holocaust. It is rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi extermination of Jews during the second World War, and many Israelis are loath to countenance its use to describe other events.

Mental harm should also be considered. As pointed out in many UN agency reports, all Gazan children suffer mental and emotional problems. Stress and trauma make the children sick-minded due to constant fear. They have no opportunities for fun and joy, since the Israeli blockade even includes a ban on toys. It is not an exaggeration to say that a considerable number of the Gazan population are exhausted and mentally drained. They live with the constant realities of deprivation, war, restriction of freedom and death.

Inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
This has been happening for years, ever since the establishment of the state of Israel. Focusing on the Gaza Strip today, the siege has impacted every aspect of life. Factories have stopped operating, and food just trickles in. Add to that the fact that people have no freedom of movement beyond their “concentration camp,” with just two gates that open irregularly.

The Israeli blockade on exports and on all but humanitarian imports has forced 98 percent of Gaza’s industry to close. Around 1.5 million Palestinians live in just 360 square km (139 square mile). More than three-quarters of the residents are refugees whose families were driven from their land in what is now Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The remaining two characteristics of what constitutes genocide include imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and transferring children of the group to another group. These remaining two characteristics were most evident in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the 1967 war.

Advertisements

To shoot an elephant

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, International community, Israeli occupation, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege, Videos, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , on 06/02/2010 by 3071km

Source : To Shoot An Elephant

To download click here.

_____

Sinopsis

 

“…afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if it’s owner fails to control it”.

George Orwell defined a way of witnessing Asia that still remains valid. “To shoot an elephant” is an eye witness account from The Gaza Strip. December 27th, 2008, Operation Cast Lead. 21 days shooting elephants. Urgent, insomniac, dirty, shuddering images from the only foreigners who decided and managed to stay embedded inside Gaza strip ambulances, with Palestinian civilians.

George Orwell: “Shooting an elephant” was originally published in New Writing in 1948.

Context

 

Gaza Strip has been under siege since June 2007, when Israel declared it an “enemy entity”. A group of international activists organized a siege-breaking movement, the Free Gaza movement. Thanks to their efforts, and despite the Israeli ban on foreign correspondents and humanitarian aid workers to cover and witness operation “Cast Lead” on the ground, a group of international volunteers: self organised members of the International Solidarity Movement were present in Gaza when the bombing started on December, 27th 2009. Together with two international correspondents from Al Jazeera International (Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros), they were the only foreigners who managed to write, film and report for several radio stations what was happening inside the besieged Palestinian strip.

Were they journalists? Were they activists? Who cares!. They became witnesses. Being a journalist or being whatsoever depends on how you feel. It is an ethical responsibility that you manage to share with a wider audience what you and those who are around you are going through. It will be the result of your work that will lead you to a professional career as a journalist or not, rather than pre-assumptions and labels. Make them know. Make those who you want to: listen and be aware of what you are aware of. That is a journalist. Having a card, with “press” written on it, or getting a regular salary is not necessary to be a witness with a camera or a pen. Forget about neutrality. Forget about objectivity. We are not Palestinians. We are not Israelis. We are not impartial. We only try to be honest and report what we see and what we know. I am a journalist. If somebody listens, I am a journalist. In Gaza´s case, no “official journalists” were authorized to enter Gaza (apart from those who were already inside) so we became witnesses. With a whole set of responsibilities as regarding to it.

I have always understood journalism as “a hand turning the lights on inside the dark room”. A journalist is a curious person, an unpleasant interrogator, a rebel camera and a pen making those in power feel uncomfortable. And that is the concept of my work in Gaza: To fulfil a duty in the most narrated conflict on earth, where the story of the siege and the collective punishment that is being imposed by Israel on the whole population of the territory in retaliation for rockets sent by Hamas will never be told with enough accuracy. For this it has to be lived. I sneaked inside Gaza despite Israeli attempts not to allow us to enter and I was “politely” asked to leave by those in power in Gaza. That is my idea of journalism. Every government on earth should feel nervous about somebody going around with a camera or a pen ready to publish what he or she manages to understand. For the sake of information, one of the biggest pillars of democracy.

This is an embedded film. We decided to be “embedded within the ambulances” opening an imaginary dialogue with those journalists who embed themselves within armies. Everyone is free to choose the side where they want to report from. But decisions are often not unbiased. We decided that civilians working for the rescue of the injured would give us a far more honest perspective of the situation than those whose job is to shoot, to injure and to kill. We prefer medics rather than soldiers. We prefer the bravery of those unarmed rescuers than those with -also interesting, but morally rejectable experiences who enlist to kill. It is a matter of focus. I am not interested in the fears, traumas and contradictions of those who have a choice: the choice of staying home and saying no to war.

Crew

 

Directors: Alberto Arce/ Mohammad Rujailah

Script: Alberto Arce/ Miquel Marti Freixas

Editing: Alberto Arce/ Miquel marti Freixas

Sound: Francesc Gosalves

Posproduction: Jorge Fernández Mayoral

Co-production/distribution: Eguzki Bideoak.

Translation: Mohammad Rujailah/ Alberto Arce

Design Team: Mr. Brown and Mabrilan

Duration:112´

Blair: Gaza’s great betrayer

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, History, International community, International conferences, Israel, Israel politics, Israel's separation wall, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Peace process, Siege, War crimes on 05/02/2010 by 3071km

Tony Blair visiting Gaza, June 2009

Tony Blair in June 2009 speaking at a press conference in Gaza calling for a quick reconstruction. Photograph: Hatem Moussa/AP

Date Published:  3 February 2010

Source: The Guardian

It’s more than a year since Israel launched its immoral attack on Gaza and Palestinians are still living on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. So what has Tony Blair done to further peace in the region? Virtually nothing, argues the historian Avi Shlaim

The savage attack Israel ­unleashed against Gaza on 27 December 2008 was both immoral and unjustified. Immoral in the use of force against civilians for political purposes. Unjustified because Israel had a political alternative to the use of force. The home-made Qassam rockets fired by Hamas militants from Gaza on Israeli towns were only the ­excuse, not the reason for Operation Cast Lead. In June 2008, Egypt had ­brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. ­Contrary to Israeli propaganda, this was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza, killing six Hamas fighters. When Hamas ­retaliated, Israel seized the renewed rocket attacks as the ­excuse for launching its insane offensive. If all Israel wanted was to protect its citizens from Qassam rockets, it only needed to ­observe the ceasefire.

While the war failed in its primary aim of regime change in Gaza, it left ­behind a trail of death, devastation, ­destruction and indescribable human suffering. Israel lost 13 people, three in so-called friendly fire. The Palestinian death toll was 1,387, including 773 civilians (115 women and 300 children), and more than 5,300 people were injured. The ­entire population of 1.5 million was left traumatised. Across the Gaza Strip, 3,530 homes were completely ­destroyed, 2,850 severely damaged and 11,000 suffered structural damage.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, tending to the needs of four million Palestinian ­refugees, stated that Gaza had been “bombed back, not to the Stone Age, but to the mud age”; its inhabitants ­reduced to building homes from mud after the fierce 22-day offensive.

War crimes were committed and possibly even crimes against humanity, documented in horrific detail in Judge Richard Goldstone’s report for the UN human rights council. The report ­condemned both Israel and Hamas, but reserved its strongest criticism for Israel, accusing it of deliberately targeting and terrorising civilians in Gaza. The British government did not take part in the vote on the report, sending a signal to the hawks in Israel that they can continue to disregard the laws of war. Gordon Brown’s 2007 appointment as a patron of the Jewish National Fund UK presumably played a part in the adoption of this ­pusillanimous position.

One year on, the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas on earth, continues to teeter on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. Israel’s ­illegal blockade of Gaza, in force since June 2007, restricts the flow not only of arms but also food, fuel and medical supplies to well below the minimum necessary for normal, everyday life. Reconstruction work has hardly begun because of the Israeli ban on bringing in cement and other building materials to Gaza. Thousands of families still live in the ruins of their former homes. Hospitals, health facilities, schools, government buildings and mosques cannot be rebuilt. Nor can the basic ­infrastructure of the Gaza Strip, including Gaza City’s sewage disposal plant. Today, 80% of Gaza’s population ­remain dependent on food aid, 43% are unemployed, and 70% live on less than $1 a day.

Meanwhile, the so-called peace process cannot be revived because ­Israel refuses to freeze settlement ­expansion on the West Bank. Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently agreed to a temporary freeze of 10 months, but this does not apply to the 3,000 pre-approved housing units to be built on the West Bank or to any part of Greater Jerusalem. It’s like two men negotiating the division of a pizza while one continues to gobble it up.

Politically, the disjunction between words and deeds persists. Appeals to the Israeli government to lift or relax the blockade of Gaza were not backed up by effective pressure or the threat of sanctions. In fact, the only effective pressure was applied by the US on the Egyptian government – to seal its border with Gaza. Egypt has its own reason for complying: Hamas is ideologically ­allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic opposition to the Egyptian regime. The tunnels under the border separating Egypt from the Gaza Strip bring food and material relief to the people under siege. Yet, under US ­supervision and with the help of US army engineers, Egypt is building an 18-metre-deep underground steel wall to disrupt the tunnels and tighten the blockade.

The wall of shame, as Egyptians call it, will complete the transformation of Gaza into an open-air prison. It is the cruellest example of the concerted ­Israeli-Egyptian-US policy to isolate and prevent Hamas from leading the Palestinian struggle for self-determi­nation. Hamas is habitually dismissed by its enemies as a purely terrorist ­organisation. Yet no one can deny that it won a fair and free election in the West Bank as well as Gaza in January 2006. Moreover, once Hamas gained power through the ballot box, its ­leaders adopted a more pragmatic stand ­towards Israel than that enshrined in its charter, repeatedly expressing its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire. But there was no one to talk to on the Israeli side.

Israel adamantly refused to recognise the Hamas-led government. The US and the European Union ­followed, ­resorting to economic ­sanctions in a vain attempt to turn the people against their elected leaders. This cannot ­possibly bring ­security or stability ­because it is based on the denial of the most ­elementary human rights of the people of Gaza and the collective political rights of the ­Palestinian people. Through its special relationship with the US and its staunch support for ­Israel, the ­British government is implicated in this shameful policy.

At present the British public is ­preoccupied with Tony Blair and the war in Iraq. What is often ­overlooked is that this was only one aspect of a disastrous British policy towards the Middle East, inaugurated by Blair, and which shows no sign of changing under his successor.

One of Blair’s arguments used to ­justify the Iraq war was that it would help bring justice to the long-suffering Palestinians. In his House of Commons speech on 18 March 2003, he promised that action against Iraq would form part of a broader engagement with the problems of the Middle East. He even declared that resolving the Israeli-­Palestinian dispute was as important to Middle East peace as removing Saddam Hussein from power.

Yet by focusing international ­attention on Iraq, the war further ­marginalised the Palestinian question. To be fair, Blair persuaded the Quartet (a group consisting of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia) to issue the Roadmap in 2003, which called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel by the end of 2005. But President George Bush was not genuinely committed and only adopted it under pressure from his ­allies. Ariel Sharon, Israel’s hard-line prime minister at the time, wrecked the plan by continuing to expand Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Could Blair really not have realised that for Bush the special relationship that ­counted was the one with Israel? Every time Bush had to choose between Blair and Sharon, he chose Sharon.

Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 was not a contribution to the Roadmap but an attempt to unilaterally redraw the borders of Greater Israel and part of a plan to ­entrench the occupation there. Yet in return for the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Sharon extracted from the US a written agreement to Israel’s ­retention of the major settlement blocs on the West Bank. Bush’s support amounted to an abrupt reversal of US policy since 1967, which regarded the settlements as illegal and as an obstacle to peace. Blair publicly endorsed the pact, probably to preserve a united ­Anglo-American front at any price. It was the most egregious British ­betrayal of the Palestinians since the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

In July 2006, at the height of the savage Israeli onslaught on Lebanon, Blair opposed a security council ­resolution for an immediate and ­unconditional ceasefire: he wanted to give Israel an opportunity to destroy Hezbollah, the radical Shi’ite religious-political movement. One year later, in June 2007, he resigned from office. That day he was appointed the Quartet’s special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. His main sponsor was Bush and his blatant partisanship on behalf of Israel was probably considered a qualification. His appointment ­coincided with the collapse of the ­Palestinian national unity government, the reassertion of Fatah rule in the West Bank and the violent seizure of power by Hamas in Gaza.

Blair’s main tasks were to mobilise international assistance for the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, to promote good governance and the rule of law in the Palestinian territories, and to further Palestinian economic development. His broader mission, was “to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Roadmap”.

On taking up his appointment, Blair said that: “The absolute priority is to try to give effect to what is now the consensus across the international community – that the only way of bringing stability and peace to the ­Middle East is a two-state solution.” His appointment was received with great satisfaction by the Israelis and with utter dismay by the Arabs.

In his two and a half years as special envoy, Blair has achieved remarkably little. True, Blair helped persuade the Israelis to reduce the number of West Bank checkpoints from 630 to 590; he helped to create employment oppor­tunities; and he may have contributed to a slight improvement in living ­standards in Palestine. But the Americans remained fixated on security rather than on economic development, and their policy remains skewed in favour of ­Israel. Barack Obama made a promising start as ­president by insisting on a complete settlement freeze on the West Bank, but was compelled to back down, ­dashing many of our high hopes.

One reason for Blair’s disappointing results is that he wears too many hats and cannot, as he promised, be “someone who is on the ground spending 24/7 on the issue”. Another reason is his “West Bank first” attitude – ­continuing the western policy of bolstering Fatah and propping up the ailing Palestinian Authority against Hamas. His lack of commitment to Gaza is all too evident. During the Gaza war, he did not call for a ceasefire. He has one standard for ­Israel and one for its victims. His attitude to Gaza is to wait for change rather than risk ­incurring the displeasure of his American and ­Israeli friends. As ­envoy, Blair has been inside Gaza only twice; once to visit a UN school just ­beyond the border and once to Gaza City. His project for sanitation in northern Gaza was never completed because he could not ­persuade the Israelis to ­allow in the last small load of pipes needed. A growing group of western politicians has ­publicly acknowledged the necessity of talking to Hamas if meaningful progress is to be achieved; Blair is not one of their number.

Blair has totally failed to fulfil the ­official role of the envoy “to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Roadmap”, largely for reasons beyond his control. The most ­important of these is Israel’s determination to perpetuate the isolation and the de-development of Gaza and deny the Palestinian people a small piece of land – 22% of Mandate-era ­Palestine, to be precise – on which to live in freedom and dignity. It is a policy that Baruch Kimmerling, the late Israeli sociologist, named ­”politicide” – the denial to the ­Palestinian people of any independent political existence in Palestine.

Partly, however, Blair’s failure is due to his own personal limitations; his ­inability to grasp that the fundamental issue in this tragic conflict is not Israeli security but Palestinian national rights, and that concerted and sustained ­international pressure is required to compel Israel to recognise these rights. The core issue cannot be avoided: there can be no settlement of the ­conflict without an end to the Israeli occupation. There is international consensus for a two-state solution, but Israel rejects it and Blair has been unable or unwilling to use the Quartet to enforce it.

Blair’s failure to stand up for Palestinian independence is precisely what endears him to the Israeli establishment. In February of last year, while the ­Palestinians in Gaza were still mourning their dead, Blair received the Dan David prize from Tel Aviv University as the “laureate for the present time ­dimension in the field of leadership”. The citation praised him for his ­”exceptional intelligence and foresight, and demonstrated moral courage and leadership”. The prize is worth $1m. I may be cynical, but I cannot help viewing this prize as absurd, given Blair’s silent complicity in Israel’s ­continuing crimes against the ­Palestinian people.

 Avi Shlaim is professor of international relations at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and the author of Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Verso, 2009). His fee for this article has been donated to Medical Aid for Palestine

UN unsure if Gaza probes set up

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Gaza reconstruction, Gaza war crimes investigation, International community, International conferences, Israel, Israel politics, Israel's separation wall, Israeli occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Peace process, Siege on 05/02/2010 by 3071km

Source: Aljazeera English

The UN secretary general has said he cannot determine if the Israelis and Palestinians have complied with a UN demand to carry out credible and independent investigations into alleged war crimes during the war in Gaza more than a year ago.

Ban Ki-moon told the UN General Assembly in a report released on Thursday that both sides were still looking into the allegations made in a September report by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge and former international war crimes prosecutor.

“No determination can be made on the implementation of the [UN] resolution by the parties concerned,” Ban said in his report to the 192-member assembly that contains responses provided by Israel and the Palestinians.

Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said anyone looking to the UN chief to make a stand on the investigations demanded would have been disappointed.

In his 72-page report, Ban mostly forwards reports to him from the Palestinians and Israelis and makes no assessment himself, our correspondent said.

‘Hope’ over probes

Last Friday, Ban received a 46-page report from Israel in which it denied violating international law, but admitted “tragic results” due to the “complexity and scale” of conducting a military operation in a heavily populated area.

 Ban highlighted Israel’s assertion that two of its senior officers – a brigadier-general and a colonel – were disciplined for the firing of white phosphorous shells towards a UN compound during the Gaza war.

Also last Friday, Ban was handed a preliminary report from the Palestinians in which they said a commission of five well-known judges and legal experts had been set up.

In his report on Thursday, Ban said he had on several occasions urged both sides “to carry out credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the Gaza conflict”.

“I hope that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of human rights abuses,” he added.

A UN spokesman said the General Assembly would meet soon to discuss Ban’s Gaza report.

The Goldstone report accused Israel and Palestinian fighters of war crimes during the Gaza war.

Most of criticism in the report was directed towards Israel, which was accused of using “disproportionate force” and deliberately targeting civilians.

It recommended that its findings be passed to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court at The Hague if Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction which governs the Gaza Strip, fail to carry out credible independent investigations of the claims by Friday – six months from when the report was submitted.

About 1,400 Palestinians – many of them women and children – were killed in the war. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were also killed.

US to Israel: Ease Gaza blockade to counter Goldstone charges of war crimes

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Israel politics, Israel's separation wall, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, USA foreign policy, War crimes on 04/02/2010 by 3071km

 US, February 4, 2010 (Pal Telegraph; reprinted from Haaretz, by Barak Ravid) – The United States has suggested to Israel that easing the Gaza blockade would help counter the fallout from the Goldstone report on alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead a year ago.

 Judge_Richard_Goldstone

Judge Richard Goldstone

Friday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to present a report to the General Assembly on the implementation of the report’s recommendations by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

 The U.S. message on the blockade was relayed last week when a Foreign Ministry delegation met in Washington with senior officials from the State Department and the White House. Much of the meeting dealt with steps that Israel could take to help the United States and others block the Goldstone report and prevent it from reaching the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Heading the Israeli delegation was the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director for international organizations, Eviatar Manor. The delegation met with officials including the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, Michael Posner, and President Barack Obama’s adviser on human rights, Samantha Power.

The Americans were interested to hear whether Israel had decided on whether to set up a committee to investigate Operation Cast Lead. Power asked about Israeli public opinion on this issue.

Power did not hide her criticism of Israel’s handling of the Goldstone report; she asked whether Israel’s thinking on the issue was “strategic or tactical.”

“Is the correct strategy fighting Goldstone on all fronts?” she asked.

A main message of the U.S. officials was that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was directly linked to the ability of Israel’s critics to push the Goldstone report forward and the ability to block the report’s consequences.

Posner, who had held talks on the Goldstone report in Jerusalem a month ago, stressed that the document has two angles: “one humanitarian the other multilateral. Improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza may be an important component of the change in the attitude of the international community toward Israel and will be very helpful against the Goldstone report.”

The Americans said they do not believe in the policy of preventing goods from reaching the Gaza population because of the political situation there. “We do not accept the current situation at the Gaza crossings,” one of them said.

The Israeli government has still not decided whether to form a committee that will evaluate the events of Operation Cast Lead. A decision is expected to be made before deliberations on the matter at the UN.

Sources at the Prime Minister’s Bureau said yesterday that the plan is first to see how the deliberations at the UN proceed, and to gauge the reactions to the secretary general’s report.

The forum of seven senior cabinet ministers met Tuesday night to discuss the Goldstone report and are expected to hold another meeting today.

 

Gaza is in the eyes of their children

Posted in Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Gaza war crimes investigation, IDF, Israel, Israel politics, Israel's separation wall, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Pictures, Poetry, Siege, War crimes on 03/02/2010 by 3071km

gaza-expo-650

source: The Palestine Telegraph

Gaza, February 03, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) “Gaza is in the eyes of their children” Exhibition Photography and Video Art opened “professional windows of contemporary art” in Gaza City for nineteen infants who received a workshop for six weeks, funded by the Children of War – NETHERLANDS WAR CHILD HOLLAND “.
Embraced the exhibition between the flanks fifty-five photographs and video art work done by children individually or in cooperation among themselves after several attempts by the Applied stumble repeatedly softer nails professional.

However, some camera skills seemed prominent in images of children, focusing on the integration time and playing on the water lighting and skill “critical shot” “” decisive moment and the system of triangulation applied by young trainees in their photos.
Gaza, which looked as if they saw children other than those used glasses to see on television and in newspapers and sites on the Web site. In photographs missed the planes and the smell of death and blood and dust mass, to be replaced by smiles of children playing and practicing their childhood is like Batabiei.

Fjmanp August (14) quoted a child playing with her portfolio as “PlayStation” inside his house, and Mohammed Abu Eisha, Take a picture of children playing soccer in the stadium, “asphalt” Bbdlathm sports. The girl Kariman Mashharawi it seems fascinated with lighting that fell on the girl caressed “banda” in the evening, but the child preferred a peaceful painted shed lens on the children crammed into the swing seemed an orphan.
The share of the Sea of Gaza, signed by the children’s eyes, our delegations Ahmed applied the theory of “triangulation” on land, sea and water in the form of the Sea of Gaza Ttosth fishing boats, accompanied by nostalgia star taken pictures of children playing instruments fishermen, the fish market.

However, that does not mean the complete absence of movement of the bait last footage from the Gaza Strip in particular in the work of video art, Vzia Abu arts (14 years) the transfer of child labor by focusing the camera lens through the newly industrialized technology snapshot “traveling shot” on the market at the corner of the famous Strip, a potent light on the dolls and cigarette wholesalers mobile.
Abdel Rahman al-Madhoun, and the names of Bashir Venqla remnants of war, the body of the flag of Palestine Valmdhun Hugh technical part of the mass Bashir was quoted as insisting on life through tracing was bombed was revived again.

The girl glory Mashharawi (13 years), one of the trainees, Radio Netherlands International, “We pick images at random and it is important to take shape, but now after the session for 6 weeks photo was taken of the brothers before the photo session after the session The blank is now pretty picture.”
Beside the picture is full of children playing on the swing and stood peacefully Madhoun (8 years), said: “In the session started to love photography and found Anu hobby photography,
Leave learned tracts, and if in two side some to be close together. ”
The girl Jumana August (10 years), said: “We learned how to evacuate in the spaces, and beautiful spaces in the image and how to take advantage of colors of objects in the house and the street.”

In an interview with Radio Netherlands International, said the artist Basil Maqqousi, Project Coordinator, “The professional children selected after a series of workshops during which the selection of those who believe that it is possible to develop professional skills in Video Art and Photograph in the context of promoting a culture of child rights which have been agreed by the Parties on the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. ”
The Maqqousi that one of the pitfalls, which interviewed the project is that the trainees focused on their tour of the first hands-on training to portray the demolished homes and some of the effects of war.

Maqqousi He added that the project led them to other areas from which to discover beauty, the ultimate goal is to move away from their psychological effects of the recent Israeli war on Gaza, which is still lingering in their consciousness.
Israel had launched late December 2008 the “Cast Lead” on the Strip, the 22 days has killed more than 1400 Palestinians, including 300 children, and destroyed more than 4000 building, according to Palestinian statistics.

For his part, artist Sharif Sarhan, one of the trainers, the children attended several lectures on the history and theory of the foundations of Photography and Video Art, and then examined the photographs and video works have been discussed with them before setting off for practical training.
He pointed out that through the project have been directed to focus on issues related to the rights of the child to play, education and safe life, but the scarcity of public places was already an obstacle in front of them, forcing them to shoot their brothers and their parents at home.

He Sarhan of the most important achievements of the project is to break the psychological barrier between the child and the camera and they are now not afraid to use and were trained to attempt to refine their skills in detecting beautiful things, pointing out that “it is possible that in the future, one a professional photographer or documentary filmmaker, and this is not far away.”

 

Nightmares continue to plague Gaza children

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Hamas, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03/02/2010 by 3071km

Date published: 3 February 2010

Source: The Electronic Intifada

_____

Mona al-Samouni shows a photo of her parents who she witnessed being killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza in January 2009. (Suhair Karam/IRIN)

OCCUPIED GAZA STRIP (IRIN) – Mona al-Samouni, 12, is depressed and has nightmares about the day — just more than a year ago — when she witnessed her parents and a number of relatives being shot by Israeli soldiers in their home in Zeitoun, southeast of Gaza City.

Like a number of other children who witnessed horrific events during last year’s 23-day Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, Mona has become increasingly withdrawn and silent — common ways of coping with tragedies, doctors say.

Statistics about Palestinians who lost their life during the military operation vary, but nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) place the overall number of persons killed between 1,387 and 1,417. The Gaza authorities report 1,444 fatal casualties, while Israel provides a figure of 1,166, according to the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone report.

The killing of Mona’s family is one of the most notorious incidents of last year’s conflict in Gaza and was one of 11 incidents investigated by the UN mission “in which Israeli forces launched direct attacks against civilians with lethal outcome” and in which “the facts indicate no justifiable military objective pursued by the attack.” It said Israeli forces “killed 23 members of the extended al-Samouni family” on that day.

“There is a significant deterioration in the psychological well-being of Palestinian children who are living in the Gaza Strip, especially after the recent war,” Ayesh Samour, director of the Psychiatric Hospital in Gaza, told IRIN.

According to a study by NGO Ard al-Insan in Gaza, 73 percent of Gaza children are still suffering from psychological and behavioral disorders, including psychological trauma, nightmares, involuntary urination, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Samour said children in Gaza were being denied a normal childhood because of the insecurity and instability in their environment. He said a culture of violence and death had pervaded their mentalities, making them angrier and more aggressive.

A dearth of health professionals in the Strip and a lack of access to medical equipment meant children were not getting the help they needed, Samour said.

Basem Naim, the Hamas minister of health in Gaza, said hospitals and primary care facilities damaged during the Gaza conflict have not been rebuilt due to the blockade of the territory under which Israel bans the entry of construction materials, saying they could be used for military purposes.

“Health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from the outside world,” Naim said.

Hussain Ashour, director of al-Shifa Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza City, said they lacked medical equipment and pediatricians.

Project

Save the Children Sweden and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on 25 January launched the Family Centers Project in Gaza.

“The project will ensure that the right to survival and development of children at risk … is ensured through the establishment of 20 Family Centers in different communities of the Gaza Strip,” Patricia Hoyos, director of Save the Children in Gaza, told IRIN.

“Its main role is to serve a wide population and to provide quality child protection, educational, health and psychosocial services to all those in need of support,” she said.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.