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From ‘God’s Wrath’ to ‘Protective Edge’: Israel’s Four-Decade-Long Assault on Palestine

By Derek Ide | The Hampton Institute | July 16, 2014

gaza1In Beirut on July 8, 1972, thirty-six year old Ghassan Kanafani entered into his Volkswagen for the last time. The prolific writer and editor of Al Hadaf (“The Goal”) was headed to the newspaper’s office. His seventeen year old niece Lamis Najm was with him. Not long before, he had penned these words to her:

“Dearest: You are rising now, while we start to fall. Our role is almost complete. The role of this generation was the shortest for any generation in history. We live in crucial times for the history of humanity and people are divided between participants and spectators… The battle is harsh and human capacity cannot tolerate this much. I, young one, chose not to be a spectator. It means that I chose to live the crucial moments of our history, no matter how short…”[1]

It was around 11 a.m. that Saturday when the explosion occurred, judging from the watch later found on what remained of Lamis’ hand.[2] Kanafani was a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the heart of the left-wing secular opposition to Israel. He was a noncombatant, and although pictures of Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara adorned his office, he never personally picked up a gun against his Zionist enemies, despite having every right to resist the ongoing occupation by whatever means necessary. Yet, he still became a victim of Israeli terror.

The car bomb attached to Kanafani’s vehicle killed him and his teenage niece on July 8, 1972. The assassination was part of a secret operation known as God’s Wrath. The plan, carried out under the tutelage of Prime Minister Golda Meir, was intended to murder leading militants and officials within the Palestinian resistance movement carried out by Israel’s “Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations,” more commonly known as Mossad.

Operation God’s Wrath was a covert operation that utilized methods, such as car bombs, akin to what Arundhati Roy once referred to as the “privatization of war.”[3] Forty-two years later, to the day, after the car bomb killed Ghassan and Lamis, the terrorist state of Israel began a new public operation of a different sort. On Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Israel unleashed Operation Protective Edge onto Gaza, a much more hasbara-friendly initiative. This spectacle of sheer force – conventional terrorism, it might be called – had indiscriminately slaughtered nearly 200 Palestinians within the span of one week.[4] Seven days in and Israel’s casualties had reached a stunning zero.

Unlike the names of the three Israeli teenage settlers who were kidnapped and murdered not long before Operation Protective Edge was initiated, the names of the 192 victims of Israeli aggression have not yet been plastered on the front pages of every newspaper or the headlines on every television set. Sa’ad Mahmoud al-Hajj was 17, the same age as Kanafani’s niece Lamis, was murdered along with seven members of his family when an Israeli bomb destroyed their home in Khan Younis. Sa’ad’s brother Tarek, age 18, and his sister Fatima, age 12, died with him. Ziad Maher al-Najjar, 17 years old, was also killed in Khan Younis days later. 17-year-old Anas Youssef Kandil was murdered by Israeli terror in Jabalia, and 17-year-old Mohammed Isam al-Batash was killed in Gaza city. 10-year-old Bassim Salim Kawareh, 11-year-old Maryam Atieh Mohammed al-Arja, 12-year-old Qassi Isam al-Batash, all victims of this most recent terrorist attack. These names may not find their way onto the pages or television screens of major news outlets in the west, where Palestinian blood has always been worth less than Israeli blood, but they, along with all the other names of victims of Israeli barbarity, should grace the lips and enter the hearts of those engaged in the struggle for a free Palestine.

Thus, forty-two years after the terrorist state martyred Kanafani, its reign of terror continues. The world is a different place from 1972, however, and the voice of worldwide opposition is growing. Just as the movement against apartheid South Africa took decades to build, so did the opposition to the settler-terrorist state of Israel. Today, however, the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), put forward by Palestinian civil society in 2005, is growing at an even more rapid pace than did its predecessor. Across US campuses, student governments have passed resolutions calling for divestment, and victories in the name of a free Palestine have been on the rise.[5] While the puppet Arab leaders, sheikhs and Israeli pawns wring their hands, donate a pittance of their enormous wealth to clean up the aftermath, and send fighters off to die in Iraq or Syria, they cannot be the face of the Palestinian resistance.

As Ghassan Kanafani explained: “If we are failed defenders of the cause, it is better to change the defenders, not to change the cause.” Since his time, the defenders have changed more than once, but Kanafani’s cause lives on. For those of us who live outside the “harsh battle,” we too should “chose not to be a spectator.” Let us, like Kanafani, “chose to live the crucial moments of our history” and contribute to the struggle for a free Palestine. For those of us who face no imminent threat of retaliation, no fear of bombs dropping onto our homes while we eat with our families, no chance of a car bomb detonating as we head to our offices, it should not only be our choice, but our obligation, our duty, to support the movement to boycott and divest from the terrorist state of Israel. As Alice Walker, who refused an Israeli publisher’s offer to publish “The Color Purple,” once said, “Activism is my rent for living on this planet.” Indeed, when it comes to Palestine, it is time for Americans to pay some rent.

Notes

[2] Ibid.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

White House Spokesperson Insists Obama Is The Most Transparent President In History, Because… Visitor Logs!

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Jul 15, 2014

The rather astoundingly named Josh Earnest is the recently appointed press secretary of President Obama, and he’s kicked off his tenure with quite a whopper: insisting that, despite complaints from basically every corner, President Obama really is “the most transparent President in history.” As you may recall, President Obama promised upon election that he would be “the most open and transparent” President, and one of his first orders of business in the White House was to promise the same.

Of course, as many folks have been documenting for years, the reality has been anything but. The Obama administration has been ridiculously secretive for years, when it comes to FOIA requests, literally setting records in denying them. The NYT’s former executive editor, who has covered many administrations, has directly noted that the Obama administration was the most secretive she could recall. Even federal judges have regularly dinged the administration for refusing to hand over documents required by law. As Stephen Colbert has noted, the administration is really only good at the most transparent bullshit legally allowed.

In fact, just as Mr. Earnest was insisting that the Obama administration was so damn transparent, Mother Jones had a good article about how often the Obama administration was making use of the “state secrets privilege” to get lawsuits tossed out, such as in various no fly list challenges. In 2008, then candidate Obama insisted that the use of the state secrets privilege by the government was dangerous. But, now that he’s in charge, he’s quick to use it himself:

In 2008, Obama griped that the Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege “more than any other previous administration” and used it to get entire lawsuits thrown out of court. Critics noted that deploying the state secrets privilege allowed the Bush administration to shut down cases that might have revealed government misconduct or caused embarrassment, including those regarding constitutionally dubious warrantless wiretapping and the CIA’s kidnapping and torture of Khaled el-Masri, a German car salesman the government had mistaken for an alleged Al Qaeda leader with the same name. After Obama took office, his attorney general, Eric Holder, promised to significantly limit the use of this controversial legal doctrine. Holder vowed never to use it to “conceal violations of the law, inefficiency, or administrative error” or “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency of the United States Government.”

Despite this promise, Obama continued to assert the privilege to squelch cases about Bush-era abuses. In one instance, the Justice Department scuttled a lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he had been kidnapped by the CIA and had his penis and testicles cut with a scalpel in a Moroccan prison. And now Obama is broadening the use of this legal maneuver: In the past 18 months, the Obama administration has twice cited state secrets to prevent federal courts from considering lawsuits challenging its use of the no-fly list.

So, given all this evidence that the Obama administration is incredibly secretive, what could Earnest’s reasoning possibly be? Well, you see, President Obama has released his visitor logs at the White House. Because, you know, that’s what everyone really means when they talk about White House transparency.

Earnest noted that previous administrations had “gone to the Supreme Court” to prevent the release of White House visitor information, but that the Obama administration “releases it voluntarily on the Internet on a quarterly basis.”

“Reporters for years clamored to get access to fundraisers the president hosted or attended that were hosted in private homes,” Earnest continued. “Reporters now have access to those when this president goes to a private home.”

So, the President has made a few tiny concessions to transparency on issues that really don’t matter at all, but has doubled down on secrecy on the things that do actually matter.

Sure, I know that the Press Secretary’s job is to basically cover for the President and do whatever possible to defend the White House’s claims, no matter how bogus, but wouldn’t the world be better off if there were actually a tiny bit of honesty from such folks? They could admit that they’ve tried and failed. They could say that transparency promises seemed easier from the outside, but turned out to be more difficult in reality. They could admit that it’s still a work in progress. Any of those would at least acknowledge reality. Pretending reality isn’t reality doesn’t convince anyone. In fact, it just appears to be yet another example of the very non-transparency that everyone’s complaining about in the first place.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

E. Ukraine open to ‘any dialogue’, wants to stop war ASAP – opposition leader

RT | July 16, 2014
A local resident near a house destroyed in the Ukrainian army's artillery attack on Lugansk.(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
A local resident near a house destroyed in the Ukrainian army’s artillery attack on Lugansk.(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

Eastern Ukraine leaders want to stop war as soon as possible and are open to any dialogue, Donetsk People’s Republic PM Aleksandr Boroday said. He denied that they “ignored” a video conference with the Kiev side and mediators as reported by the OSCE.

Earlier on Wednesday one of Donetsk People’s Republic’s Vice Premiers reached an agreement with the OSCE mission about consultations via video link to be held on July 17, he added.

“I hope that they [consultations] will really take place. The format of these consultations we will discuss tonight [Wednesday night],” Aleksandr Boroday told Rossiya-1 TV channel.

“Literally an hour ago one of the representatives of our government, vice-PM Andrey Purgin, visited the OSCE mission and reached an agreement to hold this kind of consultation, not negotiations, I stress, tomorrow, possibly, in a videoconference format,” Boroday said.

Purgin has confirmed to Rossiya-24 TV that the talks will take place on Thursday. He said that he is going to represent Donestk region and Aleksey Koryakin, Chairman of the Supreme Council, will be taking part on behalf of Lugansk region.

Earlier, on July 15, the OSCE said that a video conference, involving opposition and the contact group, scheduled for that day “did not materialize”. The organization voiced concerns “about the fact that since June 27 [second round of trilateral consultations], no such consultations have taken place.”

Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Boroday.(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Boroday.(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

The Trilateral Contact Group involves senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and OSCE members.

However, leaders of Lugansk and Donetsk say that they were not informed about the consultations and only learned about it from the OSCE’s statement that post factum accused them of ignoring the conference.

“We are really open to any kind of dialogue. Yes, we have significant military success, but with all that we really want to stop the war as soon as possible,” Boroday said.

But Boroday claims that Kiev has made no attempt to organize talks or consultations with the opposition in the east.

“OSCE representatives, some journalists and public men called me – everyone wanted to know when those consultations would take place,” he says. “But, actually, there were no attempts from Kiev to [organize] talks or consultations. I personally called Mr. Medvedchuk [leader of “Ukrainian Choice” political organization] and asked if there were going to be any kind of consultations. He said he was himself reading about that in newspapers.”

On June 27, the second round of trilateral consultations on implementing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s plan to restore peace to Ukraine’s south eastern regions took place.

The second round of consultations, followed the similar meeting between Ukrainian, Russian and OSCE representatives in Donetsk on June 23, when peaceful settlement of the conflict was discussed. The meeting was also attended by the former president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and aimed at defining stages of a peace plan.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

‘Shells were chasing them’: Four Palestinian children killed on beach by Israeli rockets

Gaza Massacre children

RT | July 16, 2014

​Four Palestinian children were killed by rockets while playing football on Gaza beach, with local officials saying the attack came from an Israeli gunboat. Dozens of international journalists witnessed the tragedy.

“This is a cowardly crime,” said Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry.

The children have been named as Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both aged 10, Mohamed Ramez Bakr, 11, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr, 9, and another boy remains in critical condition. All the victims were relatives.

“The kids were playing football on the beach,” Ahmed Abu Hassera, who witnessed the explosions along with dozens of foreign journalists located nearby, told Reuters. “When the first shell hit the land, they ran away but another shell hit them all. It looked as if the shells were chasing them.”

“We live by the coast. There was a headline on the news that four children were injured … so we went looking for the kids and we could not find them, so we came here to the hospital to look for them and we found them all, including my son … oh my God,” a man who introduced himself as the father of Zakaria, told NBC.

The Israeli Defense Forces have denied targeting the children, who came from the family of a fisherman whose shack on the beach was decimated by the strike.

“We do not target civilians, we target Hamas terrorists,” IDF representative Peter Lerner told RT.

“I have seen the footage of the incident, and indeed it does look tragic, and we will have to look into the circumstances.”

The strike brought the total of Palestinians killed by the Israeli counter-offensive to 214.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

What next for Gaza?

gaza-child2-37

By Robert Turner | Ma’an | July 16, 2014

As I sit here in my office cum bedroom in Gaza City, listening to the airstrikes and rocket fire, there is talk of how to bring the violence to an end. This is to be eminently desired, particularly for the civilian population in Gaza who have suffered the brunt of this escalation.

But when I think of the 17,000 displaced people sheltered in our schools, some of whom I spoke with yesterday, I wonder what they would think of this. Because they have seen it all before, for most this was their third displacement since 2009; many having returned to the exact same classroom.

If this prospective cease-fire ends the same way as those before it, would they think this is anything other than a brief respite from violence?

For Gaza, a return to ‘calm’ is a return to the eighth year of blockade. It is a return to over 50 percent of the population either unemployed or unpaid. It is a return to confinement to Gaza and no external access to markets, employment, or education – in short, no access to the outside world.

For example, if one of the grandmothers I spoke to yesterday should wish to go to Birzeit University in the West Bank to study, she cannot.

The Israeli government need not demonstrate this grandmother poses any specific threat to security as they have approved a blanket ban on Gazans studying in the West Bank based on an undefined security threat. The vast majority of the population are prevented from leaving this 365 square kilometer sliver of land.

If one of the tomato farmers I met yesterday can find a buyer for his product in Paris, Peoria or Prague under certain conditions he can box up his tomatoes, ship them through the one open commercial crossing and on to Ashdod port or Ben Gurion airport – two of the most sensitive security sites in Israel.

Unfortunately there is no market for Gazan tomatoes in Paris, Peoria or Prague. There is a market for Gazan tomatoes in Israel and the West Bank, but this farmer is not allowed to sell his tomatoes there because of that same undefined security threat.

The elderly I met yesterday wonder how they will access health care after this cease-fire. Other than the services provided by us at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and some private and NGO facilities, the government health care system is collapsing. Infrastructure has been damaged and the people wonder who will take responsibility to fix it.

If the Palestinian Authority is not permitted or is unable to do that is the international community expected to? Or will Israel, the occupying power, assume that responsibility?

The mothers I met yesterday wonder where their children will go to school in six short weeks if not in one of UNRWA’s 245 schools. Who will repair the government schools, deliver the textbooks, pay the teachers? If government schools do not open will UNRWA be expected to fill that void?

We lack the physical capacity, human and financial resources to accept tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of additional students in our schools.

UNRWA and the UN family, including WFP, UNICEF, OCHA and UNDP, remain engaged in meeting the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza. Amongst the areas in which UNRWA has scaled up its work in recent years is construction, where we have a very large portfolio.

This is predominantly schools for our education program, in which we taught over 230,000 children last year, and houses for those whose homes were destroyed in previous conflicts or demolished by Israel.

If we want to build something we have to submit a detailed project proposal to Israel with the design, location and a complete bill of quantities. The Israelis then review the proposal, a process that is supposed to take not more than two months but on average takes nearly 20 months.

We received no project approvals between March 2013 and May 2014, during the last ‘calm’, despite having nearly USD 100 million worth of projects awaiting approval. Will this ‘calm’ be any better?

More importantly, the people here wonder who will govern Gaza? No one has an answer to that question. I think the people of Gaza would say that if this is the form of ‘calm’ people have in mind, while preferable to the current violence, it cannot last. It will not last.

Robert Turner is Gaza Director of Operations for UNRWA.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Failed to Provide Connection between Targets and Military Activity – Report

A-Palestinian-mother

By Chris Carlson | International Middle East Media Center | July 16, 2014

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has issued an information sheet stating that the interpretation presented by the Israeli forces spokesperson — that it is enough for a person to be involved in a military activity to render his home and his neighbors’ homes legitimate military targets without having to prove any connection between his activity and the house in which he and his family live — is unfounded and illegal.

The organization added, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency’s recent report:

“It is not a coincidence that the number of uninvolved civilians killed or injured by these bombings is growing. The law is meant to protect civilians and, unsurprisingly, violating it has lethal consequences. Euphemisms such as ‘surgical strikes’ or ‘operational infrastructure’ cannot hide the facts: illegal attacks of homes, which constitute punitive home demolition from the air, come at a dreadful cost in human life.”

The fact sheet details a discussion which would cast considerable doubt over the legality of Israel’s targeting of what it claims were houses belonging to Hamas operatives.

International humanitarian law defines a military target as follows:

“[…] military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.” (Article 52 (2), Protocol I Additional to the Fourth Geneva Convention)

WAFA further reports that, according to the official interpretation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, objectives which, by their nature, make an effective contribution to hostile military action – such as weapon storage, military bases and communication centers used by the military – are considered military targets.

However, although civilian sites may serve as military bunkers or headquarters, and accordingly become legitimate military targets, the law states that if any doubt arises as to the use of a civilian site and its effective contribution to hostile military actions, it must be considered civilian.

Attacking any such structure must provide a definite military advantage.

Although the actuality of Gaza civilian houses contributing effectively to hostile military action was in fact doubted, Israeli forces targeted them anyway.

B’Tselem defines the aim of international humanitarian law as being:

“…to minimize harm to civilians under warfare and to restrict the warring parties… it is not open to any and all interpretations. The word of the law must be interpreted in its original spirit, in keeping with its overreaching aim: to provide maximum protection to civilians.”

According to the organization, the Israeli army spokesperson, over the course of the current operation, has changed the wording of statements concerning the bombings on Gaza, in an apparent attempt to retroactively match his reports of reality to the requirements of the law.

First statement (July 8): “Among the targets attacked were four homes of activists in the Hamas terror organization who are involved in terrorist activity and direct and carry out high-trajectory fire towards Israel…”.

The next day, another statement was issued which reported that the military had attacked additional homes of Hamas activists “which functioned as command and control infrastructure for the organization’ or as ‘a control center for advancing terrorism”.

The same evening, the spokesperson stopped reporting that homes were destroyed, stating instead that “the operational infrastructure of a senior Hamas functionary was attacked”.

See: ISM Update — Gaza Report: War Against Civilians

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Gaza faces water crisis amid Israeli strikes: Red Cross

Press TV – July 16, 2014

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are without water as a result of Israel’s repeated airstrikes on the enclave.

The ICRC said on Wednesday that Gaza’s already vulnerable water system is being destroyed after days of deadly airstrikes by Israel.

“Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are now without water. Within days, the entire population of the Strip may be desperately short of water,” Jacques de Maio, the head of the ICRC delegation in the Palestinian occupied territories said.

“If they do not stop, the question is not if, but when an already beleaguered population will face an acute water crisis,” he added.

ICRC water and sanitation expert Guillaume Pierrehumbert also warned that the coastal enclave’s water system had been deteriorating for years, saying “the latest attacks are the last straw.”

The water crisis comes as temperatures are on the rise in Gaza.

Since July 8, Israeli warplanes have struck more than 1,300 targets across Gaza, which is home to around 1.8 million Palestinians.

At least 205 Palestinians have been killed and 1,500 others wounded since last week. Reports show that more than 30 percent of people killed in Gaza were women and children.

Israel has blockaded Gaza since 2007, denying the Palestinian people there of their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages, and adequate healthcare and education.

Gaza also often faces electricity and fuel shortages.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment