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‘Death Zone’ in Shajiya

Rina Andolini | International Solidarity Movement | July 20, 2014

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – There was a ceasefire today for 3 hours – so some of us internationals went to the area which I refer to as the ‘Death Zone’ – Shajiya, we went to see if we could help with the masses of injured amongst the rubble. 

The Death Zone is unlike any destruction I have seen in my life – there is no place left without bombing, shelling or sniper shots. Total devastation. 

Photo by Joe Catron

A destroyed ambulance (photo by Joe Catron).

We reached [Shajiya] and there was a beautiful brother who was looking for his family. Doing our job, we made the decision collectively to help find the brother’s family amongst the annihilation.

Unfortunately, the danger starts, there is constant bombing very very very close by, drones literally above our heads and sniper shooting. We are ducking and diving, and weaving in and out of the rubble and destruction.

Photo by Joe Catron

We have so much to worry about – 1- to find this brothers family, 2- to not get struck on the head by falling debris from the tops of buildings/houses, 3 – to ensure our safety from the Israeli Occupational Forces.

This is not a joke, this is what happened. I was there and I was in the middle of it along with the five other members including the brother who lost his family.

We were pretty much in the line of fire. However, this was not expected as we were under the impression that we had a ceasefire window to go and do our work and come back safely.

There was cover as we were walking but then, there was a clear opening…. and we heard the first shot towards us. It missed us, but it split the group.

I was on the far side with Mohammed and the brother. And on the opposite side, there was Joe, Charlie and Fred. The brother was slightly near the opening and there was a second shot at 15.27 and he fell to the ground.

Nobody could help him, he was in two arms reach, and we could not go to him as the Israelis were shooting and there is no doubt in my mind that the rest of us would have died if we did try to go to him.

Photo by Joe Catron

We could not even give him something to hold on to, we were just surrounded by rubble and cables that possibly were live. The mind was not at its most clearest of points right then.

Then there was a third shot at him, and a fourth that missed him. The second shot to the brother was what killed him. Yet, they shot him again. Four shots in total.

Our dear brother – dead, inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon [may he rest in peace]. The Israeli Occupational Forces murdered him. And what for?

Why, during a ceasefire were attacks being carried out against the Palestinian people?

I hear Charlie say, ‘ find something anything…” and Mohammed and I shouted, “he is already dead”.

There were four shots in total, miss, hit, hit, miss. Shrapnel flying everywhere.

THEY MURDERED OUR BROTHER.

We are all witnesses to this murder of an ordinary human being, a beautiful brother, who was merely looking for his family. He must have been about 20 years old, with piercing light eyes.

We still do not know his name but we are trying our best to find out.

My last words to him were “slow down, brother, slow down” – but he wanted his family. He wanted his lost family, and the Israelis killed him for that.

Photo by Joe Catron

Who are the murderers here?

We are blessed that we made it out of the Death Zone alive. The brother will be a shaheed [martyr] and he died in the last 10 days of Ramadhan. May Allah grant him the highest ranks of jannah [heaven]. Ameen.

Image shows our brother, from the back, in Shajiya, in the green t shirt – a short while before his murder.

Photo by Joe Catron

 

Video of Israeli sniper killing wounded civilian

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

100 Palestinians killed in Israeli assault on Sunday alone

Ma’an – 20/07/2014

GAZA CITY – Israeli forces killed at least 100 Palestinians on Sunday including 66 in a single neighborhood of Gaza City, bringing the 13-day death toll to 437.

The assault on Gaza — which has also left 18 Israels dead — is the largest and deadliest attack on the besieged coastal enclave since 2008. More than 200 Palestinians have died since the ground invasion began on Thursday.

On Sunday, 66 bodies were recovered from the Shujaiyya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, in what medical authorities called a “massacre” and a level of violence not seen before in the ongoing conflict.

At least 500 Palestinians were injured in Israeli attacks on Wednesday, with the total surpassing 3,000 as Gazan hospitals struggled to cope with the surge and facing shortages of medical supplies, doctors, and hospital beds.

Hospitals were also facing continuous power cuts, as electricity has fallen by more than 70 percent as a result of Israeli shelling and the siege itself, which even prior to the assault had reduced electricity availability to eight-hour stints.

60 thousand Gazans fled their homes on Sunday alone amid the mass killing in the Shujaiyya neighborhood, adding to a total number of displaced that has now hit 135,000.

Sources familiar with the situation argued, however, that there is not a single place safe from Israeli attack in the besieged coastal enclave, as shelling from land and sea as well as air strikes have not left any region untouched.

Palestinian analysts expressed astonishment at Israeli claims that 1.7 million Gaza residents had been warned to leave their homes, asking: “Where in the world can they go?”

Israel has kept its border with Gaza shut tight to the flight of refugees, while Egypt has also maintained the seven-year-old Israeli-led blockade of the Strip by keeping its border closed as well.

Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the operation would continue until quiet was restored in southern Israel.

Operation Protective Edge was launched 13 days ago in what Israel said was an attempt to stop rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, which had increased after Israel launched a massive operation in the West Bank that left 10 Palestinians dead, 130 injured, and more than 600 Hamas-affiliated individuals in prison.

The operation, named “Brother’s Keeper,” was launched in order to find three Israeli teenagers who disappeared in June from the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion in the West Bank.

Israel blamed Hamas for the kidnapping without any evidence, a charge which the group denied.

Shelling and airstrikes resume Sunday afternoon

On Sunday afternoon, Israeli shelling fully resumed after a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire that it violated numerous times, and dozens more had been killed in the Gaza Strip as a result.

Rayan Taysir Abu Jami, 8, and an elderly woman named Fatima Mahmoud Abu Jami were killed and three injured in an air strike on Khan Younis on Sunday evening, according to Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra.

290211Eight Palestinians were also killed in Israeli air strike on house in al-Ramal.

The dead were named by Al-Qidra as Samar Osama al-Hallaq,29, Kinan Akram al-Hallaq, 5, Hani Mohammad al-Hallaq,29, Suad Mohammad al-Hallaq, 62, Saji al-Hallaq, Ibrahim Khalil Omar, Ahmad Yassin, and an 8th person, who was unnamed.

A man and woman, meanwhile, were killed in a strike on the Atatra house in Beit Lahiya.

Medical sources said Ahmad Abu Tayim, 27, died of injuries sustained on an airstrike on al-Zana are of Khan Yunis.

Aya Abu Sultan, 15, was killed in a strike on her house northern Gaza Strip.

Another man was killed, while four were injured in another strike on Gaza City earlier in the afternoon.

Palestinian medical sources also said that a child identified as Suleiman Abu Jami was killed in an Israeli raid on Khan Younis in the south.

Five other people were injured in Beit Hanoun in the north.

In the central Gaza Strip, Israeli airstrikes in the afternoon killed four members of Abu Zayid family in al-Bureij refugee camp after destroying their home over their heads.

Medical sources also said Suleiman Abu Jami was killed in Bani Suheila in Khan Younis. Four others were injured in the same raid including one critically injured.

Al-Qidra said earlier that an elderly woman Najah Saad Addin Darraji, 65, and a 3-year-old boy Abdullah Yousif Darraji were killed in Rafah.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Human rights defenders under live fire, one dead

International Solidarity Movement | July 20, 2014

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – The Israeli military just shot a Gazan man trying to reach his family, during an announced ceasefire. He was with a group of municipality workers and international human rights defenders who were attempting to retrieve injured people in the Shajiya neighbourhood.

“We all just watched a man murdered in front of us. He was trying to reach his family in Shajiya, he had not heard from them and was worried about them. They shot him, and then continued to fire as he was on the ground. We had no choice but to retreat. We couldn’t reach him due to the artillery fire and then he stopped moving.” Stated Joe Catron, U.S. International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist in Gaza. “Shajiya is a smoking wasteland. We just passed two bombed out ambulances.”

The Israel military has also shelled Red Crescent ambulances as they attempted to retrieve injured people in the Shajiya neighbourhood, east of Gaza City. A ceasefire was announced, during which injured and dead people, could be evacuated from the area, in which at least 60 people have been killed today.

“They said we would be able to evacuate the injured from the disaster zone, but they have been shelling ambulances,” stated Dr Khalil Abu Foul of the Palestinian Red Crescent, speaking from Shajiya.

Now, the international volunteers, including some from the U.S., the UK, and Sweden, are in a rescue centre on the outskirts of Shajiya.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

California and Palestine

By Seth Sandronsky | CounterPunch | July 18, 2014

California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 2389 that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed on July 10. AB 2389, which Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale, introduced, provides a tax break of $142 million over 15 years to Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Corp., to develop “new advanced strategic aircraft for the United States Air Force” from which to drop nuclear bombs.

In the Gaza Strip, 1.7 million Palestinians are the targets of Israeli Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds aircraft. Officially, the aim of Israel’s non-nuclear airstrikes on the Gaza Strip is to stop Hamas, the elected Palestinian political group, from firing rockets at Israeli cities and towns.

Back in California, bipartisan support for Lockheed and Boeing will also subtract tax revenue from the state treasury. For instance, there will be less tax money to fund government services for the health care of residents who live below the official poverty rate, 15.3 percent of 38.3 million people, in 2008-12.

The corporate warfare state wins. The human welfare loses.

In California, AB 2389 reveals what critics call corporate welfare for private aerospace firms such as Lockheed and Boeing in action. Such an economic development model has its rise in the Cold War.

However, this model continues long after the purported demise of the Cold War. New Lockheed aircraft built in California at state taxpayer expense will be a part of—not apart from—the destruction of people and property taking place in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli pilots flying Lockheed aircraft encounter no resistance from Palestinians in or out of Hamas, a replay of Israel’s 2012 aerial assault.

In California, taxpayer subsidies feed Pentagon capitalism. In no form, shape or way is this the classical political economy of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand, folks.

Seth Sandronsky is a journalist in Sacramento. Email sethsandronsky@gmail.com.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

The Gaza greenhouse effect

The Hasbara Buster | December 1, 2009

Every now and then the subject of the greenhouses left behind by Israeli settlers eradicated from Gaza is brought up by Israel apologists as proof of several things. It is claimed that Gazans don’t suffer from malnutrition: if they did, they wouldn’t have destroyed the greenhouses when the Israelis left. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with Israel’s blockade of Gaza, because it doesn’t actually harm them. It is also claimed that the destruction of the greenhouses proves how hateful Gazans are: they prioritized wiping out every vestige of Jewish presence over keeping a valuable source of nutrients and income. Finally, it is asserted that a people that got the result of heavy investment and destroyed it can’t be trusted ro run anything, much less a state.

Much of this is bullshit, and the part that isn’t is highly distorted.

When Israel decided its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, the settlers expected to be paid handosmely for the productive infrastructure they had created. Of course this was a display of chutzpah, because it had been heavy state subsidizing that had allowed them to create that infrastructure in the first place. As Haaretz noted:

The Gaza settlers had been inundated by perks from all directions. They received subsidized lands, subsidized water, assured wages from the public sector, “risk bonuses” and lower tax on their higher wages, subsidized daycare, cheap Arab labor, what didn’t they get. The benefits they received touched on every area of their lives and they became accustomed to higher standards they can’t forgo even now.

As the date of the withdrawal approached with no deal in sight, however, the settlers began to destroy the greenhouses. The New York Times reported:

About half the greenhouses in the Israeli settlements in Gaza have already been dismantled by their owners, who have given up waiting to see if the government was going to come up with extra payment as an inducement to leave them behind, say senior officials working on the coordination of this summer’s Israeli pullout from Gaza.(…)

Of the roughly 1,000 acres of agricultural land that were under greenhouses in the 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza, only 500 acres remain – creating significant doubts that the greenhouses could be handed over to the Palestinians as “a living business,” the goal cited by the Israeli coordinator of the pullout, Eival Giladi.

Finally, a last-minute effort by American Jewish philantropists raised $14 million and the remainder of the greenhouses was bought and turned over to the Palestinians.

However, since there had been no coordination with the Palestinians, there was no security plan to protect the greenhouses from looters. AP reported:

Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.(…)

Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.

“We need at least another 70 soldiers. This is just a joke,” said Taysir Haddad, one of 22 security guards assigned to Neve Dekalim, formerly the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza. “We’ve tried to stop as many people as we can, but they’re like locusts.”

As can be seen, the theft was carried out by individuals, and in no way was it encouraged by the Palestinian Authority. Quite on the contrary, there was a conscious PA effort to prevent the lootings, which was however hindered by lack of resources.

Two reflections arise from the stories above.

On the one hand, it’s true that some of the greenhouses were destroyed by Palestinian individuals. There’s nothing remarkable about that. Beggars can’t be choosers, as the saying goes, and looting is what normally happens when two conditions are met: 1) an impoverished populace; and 2) a situation of lack of control by an established authority. Gazans stole the hardware and materials contained in the greenhouses not in a drive to erase the Jews’ memory from the territory, but to satisfy their personal needs. There was a rationale to their theft.

The destruction of part of the greenhouses by the settlers, however, can only be explained by animosity. They spent time, effort and probably even money to dismantle the facilities so that the Palestinians wouldn’t be able to use them. There’s a big difference between he who damages property in order to derive a benefit and he who damages it only to harm another person.

Many other related points could be made. For instance, that even in the Zionists’ twisted logic the looting of the facilities would justify the ban on vegetable imports into Gaza, but not that on livestock (cows can’t be raised in greenhouses). Or that the 350 Arab villages that disappeared from Israel’s map were not looted by vandals; they were razed by the State in a clear drive to eliminate any trace of Arabness from their respective landscapes. But without getting into those intricacies, and just focusing on the destruction of the greenhouses by both Jews and Palestinians, it’s clear who was moved by necessity and who by hate.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela Participates in BRICS Gathering, New Agreements Reached

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | July 20, 2014

Mérida – Venezuela participated in the gathering of the BRICS emerging powers and Latin American regional blocs in Brazil this week, where new agreements were hailed as beginning the creation of a new global financial architecture.

Several multilateral meetings were held in the city of Fortaleza, including the 6th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, and meetings between China and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

During the BRICS summit, the five emerging economies created a new development bank and a multilateral reserve fund, each of which will potentially hold US $100 billion of pooled capital. The reserve fund will be used to support members of the bloc against adverse economic conditions or external impacts.

The creation of the new institutions is partly motivated by dissatisfaction with the terms of the financial hegemony exercised by the U.S. and its European allies through the IMF and World Bank.

“The strength of our project has positive potential: we want the global [financial] system to be fairer and more equal,” said Brazilian president Dilma Roussef to media.

On Wednesday and Thursday China met with the UNASUR and CELAC blocs in order to explore strategies through which the Asian power could deepen its involvement in Latin America.

In the meeting with UNASUR countries it was discussed how BRICS and UNASUR could create more ties. After the meeting, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro reported that it had been proposed that the new BRICS Development Bank and UNASUR’s Bank of the South adopt a common strategy in the regional and global economies.

“The [new] financial institutions have the same objectives: the construction of a new financial architecture that benefits economic development in conditions of equity for our countries; where speculative financial capital is ended, where the looting of our economies is ended, and productive investment which creates employment and wealth is promoted,” he said to Telesur on Wednesday.

The Venezuelan president also argued that closer relations between BRICS and Latin America represented a “win win alliance” and “the birth of the multi-polar world”.

“In the past we were dominated powers, and now we are emerging countries and blocs,” he said.

The BRICS bloc has become a key trading partner for Venezuela. Commerce with the bloc increased by 72% from 2006 – 2013.

Meanwhile, agreements reached on Thursday between China and the CELAC bloc, which brings together all countries in the Americas apart from the U.S. and Canada, included the establishment of a $1 billion investment fund for infrastructure projects in Latin America, and a Chinese offer of scholarships for 6,000 Latin American students.

Other funds potentially worth $15 billion to support Latin American development were also discussed.

Latin America has become an important source of Chinese investment and exports, while South American powers have increasingly turned to China as a source of financing, technology transfer, and destination to export primary materials.

A top level delegation led by Chinese President Xi Jinping is currently touring the continent to further deepen China’s economic involvement in Latin America, with visits including Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela, where Xi Jinping arrives today.

Bilateral agreements

Venezuela also held several bilateral meetings in Fortaleza, including with China and Colombia.

The South American OPEC nation agreed to import a further 1,500 Chinese-made Yutong buses for the expansion of its public transport system. A Yutong factory is being built in Venezuela to begin domestic production of the vehicles, which will open next year.

The Venezuelan and Chinese central banks also reached an agreement to share information on statistical methodologies, monetary policy, and funding mechanisms. Both parties called the accord a “breakthrough” for enhancing economic ties.

Since 2001 the two countries have constructed what has been labeled as a “strategic alliance”. A high level bilateral session initiates in Caracas today with the arrival of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Airline Horror Spurs New Rush to Judgment

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 19, 2014

Despite doubts within the U.S. intelligence community, the Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. news media are charging off toward another rush to judgment blaming Ukrainian rebels and the Russian government for the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane, much as occurred last summer regarding a still-mysterious sarin gas attack in Syria.

In both cases, rather than let independent investigators sort out the facts, President Barack Obama’s ever-aggressive State Department and the major U.S. media simply accepted that the designated villains of those two crises – Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine – were the guilty parties. Yet, some U.S. intelligence analysts dissented from both snap conventional wisdoms.

Regarding the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner on Thursday, I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Flight 17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels who have been resisting the regime in Kiev since elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown on Feb. 22.

According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility.

A contrary emphasis has been given to the Washington Post and other mainstream U.S. outlets. On Saturday, the Post reported that “on Friday, U.S. officials said a preliminary intelligence assessment indicated the airliner was blown up by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by the separatists.” But the objectivity of the Obama administration, which has staunchly supported the coup regime, is in question as are the precise reasons for its judgments.

Even before the Feb. 22 coup, senior administration officials, including Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, were openly encouraging protesters seeking the overthrow of Yanukovych. Nuland went so far as to pass out cookies to the demonstrators and discuss with Pyatt who should be appointed once Yanukovych was removed.

After Yanukovych and his officials were forced to flee in the face of mass protests and violent attacks by neo-Nazi militias, the State Department was quick to declare the new government “legitimate” and welcomed Nuland’s favorite, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, as the new prime minister.

As events have unfolded since then, including Crimea’s secession to join Russia and bloody attacks directed at ethnic Russians in Odessa and elsewhere, the Obama administration has consistently taken the side of the Kiev regime and bashed Moscow.

And, since Thursday, when the Malaysian plane was shot down killing 298 people, the Ukrainian government and the Obama administration have pointed the finger of blame at the rebels and the Russian government, albeit without the benefit of a serious investigation that is only now beginning.

One of the administration’s points has been that the Buk anti-aircraft missile system, which was apparently used to shoot down the plane, was “Russian made.” But the point is rather silly since nearly all Ukrainian military weaponry is “Russian made.” Ukraine, after all, was part of the Soviet Union until 1991 and has continued to use mostly Russian military equipment.

It’s also not clear how the U.S. government ascertained that the missile was an SA-11 as opposed to other versions of the Buk missile system.

Slanting the Case

Virtually everything that U.S. officials have said appears designed to tilt suspicions toward the Russians and the rebels – and away from government forces. Referring ominously to the sophistication of the SA-11, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared, “We cannot rule out Russian technical assistance.” But that phrasing supposedly means that the administration can’t rule it in either.

Still, in reading between the lines of the mainstream U.S. press accounts, it’s possible to see where some of the gaps are regarding the supposed Russian hand in Thursday’s tragedy. For instance, the Post’s Craig Whitlock reported that Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe, said last month that “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”

Since these Buk missile systems are large and must be transported on trucks, it would be difficult to conceal their presence from U.S. aerial surveillance which has been concentrating intensely on the Ukraine-Russia border in recent months.

The Post also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”

In other words, the mystery is still not solved. It may be that the rebels – facing heavy bombardment from the Ukrainian air force – convinced the Russians to provide more advanced anti-aircraft weapons than the shoulder-fired missiles that the rebels have used to bring down some Ukrainian military planes.

It’s possible, too, that a rebel detachment mistook the civilian airliner for a military plane or even that someone in the Russian military launched the fateful rocket at the plane heading toward Russian airspace.

But both the Russian government and the rebels dispute those scenarios. The rebels say they don’t have missiles that can reach the 33,000-foot altitude of the Malaysian airliner. Besides denying a hand in the tragedy, the Russians claim that the Ukrainian military did have Buk anti-aircraft systems in eastern Ukraine and that the radar of one battery was active on the day of the crash.

The Russian Defense Ministry stated that “The Russian equipment detected throughout July 17 the activity of a Kupol radar, deployed as part of a Buk-M1 battery near Styla [a village some 30 kilometers south of Donetsk],” according to an RT report.

So, the other alternative remains in play, that a Ukrainian military unit – possibly a poorly supervised bunch – fired the missile intentionally or by accident. Why the Ukrainian military would intentionally have aimed at a plane flying eastward toward Russia is hard to comprehend, however.

A Propaganda Replay?

But perhaps the larger point is that both the Obama administration and the U.S. press corps should stop this pattern of rushing to judgments. It’s as if they’re obsessed with waging “information warfare” – i.e., justifying hostilities toward some adversarial nation – rather than responsibly informing the American people.

We saw this phenomenon in 2002-03 as nearly the entire Washington press corps clambered onboard President George W. Bush’s propaganda bandwagon into an aggressive war against Iraq. That pattern almost repeated itself last summer when a similar rush to judgment occurred around a sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21.

Though the evidence was murky, there was a stampede to assume that the Assad government was behind the attack. While blaming the Syrian army, the U.S. press ignored the possibility that the attack was a provocation committed by radical jihadist rebels who were hoping that U.S. air power could turn the tide of the war in their favor.

Rather than carefully weigh the complex evidence, the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry tried to spur President Obama into a quick decision to bomb Syrian government targets. Kerry delivered a belligerent speech on Aug. 30 and the administration released what it called a “Government Assessment” supposedly proving the case.

But this four-page white paper contained no verifiable evidence supporting its accusations and it soon became clear that the report had excluded dissents that some U.S. intelligence analysts would have attached to a more formal paper prepared by the intelligence community.

Despite the war hysteria then gripping Official Washington, President Obama rejected war at the last moment and – with the help of Russian President Putin – was able to negotiate a resolution of the crisis in which Assad surrendered Syria’s chemical weapons while still denying a hand in the sarin gas attack.

The mainstream U.S. press, especially the New York Times, and some non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, continued pushing the theme of the Syrian government’s guilt. HRW and the Times teamed up for a major story that purported to show the flight paths of two sarin-laden missiles vectoring back to a Syrian military base 9.5 kilometers away.

For a time, this report was treated as the slam-dunk evidence proving the case against Assad, until it turned out that only one of the rockets carried sarin and the maximum range of the one that did have sarin was only about two kilometers.

Despite knowing these weaknesses in the case, President Obama stood by his State Department hawks by reading a speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24 in which he declared: “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

In watching Obama’s address, I was struck by how casually he lied. He knew better than almost anyone that some of his senior intelligence analysts were among those doubting the Syrian government’s guilt. Yet, he suggested that anyone who wasn’t onboard the propaganda train was crazy.

Since then, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed other evidence indicating that the sarin attack may indeed have been a rebel provocation meant to push Obama over the “red line” that he had drawn about not tolerating chemical weapons use.

Now, we are seeing a repeat performance in which Obama understands the doubts about the identity of who fired the missile that brought down the Malaysian airliner but is pushing the suspicions in a way designed to whip up animosity toward Russia and President Putin.

Obama may think this is a smart play because he can posture as tough when many of his political enemies portray him as weak. He also buys himself some P.R. protection in case it turns out that the ethnic Russian rebels and/or the Russian military do share the blame for the tragedy. He can claim to have been out front in making the accusations.

But there is a dangerous downside to creating a public hysteria about nuclear-armed Russia. As we have seen already in Ukraine, events can spiral out of control in unpredictable ways.

Assistant Secretary Nuland and other State Department hawks probably thought they were building their careers when they encouraged the Feb. 22 coup – and they may well be right about advancing their status in Official Washington at least. But they also thawed out long-frozen animosities between the “ethnically pure” Ukrainians in the west and the ethnic Russians in the east.

Those tensions – many dating back to World War II and before – have now become searing hatreds with hundreds of dead on both sides. The nasty, little Ukrainian civil war also made Thursday’s horror possible.

But even greater calamities could lie ahead if the State Department’s “anti-diplomats” succeed in reigniting the Cold War. The crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 should be a warning about the dangers of international brinkmanship.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mofaz proposes role for Saudi Arabia and UAE to disarm Gaza

Arabi21 | July 20, 2014

As Israel continues to prosecute its criminal war against the people of the Gaza Strip, its leaders in Tel Aviv are counting more and more on the Arab regimes to confront the Palestinian resistance and reduce its effectiveness. Former Defence Minister and Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, General Shaul Mofaz, has called for a role to be “allocated” for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to disarm Hamas and other resistance groups.

Speaking on Israel’s Channel 10, Mofaz explained that it would be impossible for its army to demilitarise the Strip by force even if it were to re-occupy it completely. As such, he claimed, the matter requires a comprehensive diplomatic, political and economic plan for such an objective to be achieved.

He pointed out that there is an urgent need to convince the people of Gaza of the necessity to collaborate in implementing such a plan. This would require offering the carrot, represented by a generous financial reward, to convince them to cooperate with any international or regional effort that could contribute to achieving this goal. He noted that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE could, in the present circumstance, play an important role in providing the finances for this reward.

Meanwhile, a prominent Israeli military commentator has called for an official investigation into the political, military and intelligence failures of Israel’s war on the coastal territory. This follows growing indications that the Zionist state is not achieving its objectives.

In an article in Maariv newspaper on Saturday, Ran Edelist said that there is cause to suspect that the assessment of the internal security intelligence agency, Shin Bet, on the basis of which the Netanyahu government took the decision to go to war in Gaza, might have been influenced by the ideological motives of its leaders. Edelist pointed out that Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen belongs to the religious Zionist movement, and his deputy, who is referred to as “R”, is a settler known for his ideological extremism. They produced the recommendations for the government regarding Hamas from an extremist viewpoint rather than from an objective professional position, he claimed. Edelist accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ordering the campaign against Gaza in the hope of improving his political status and reducing opposition to him within his own Likud Party. There are growing calls for his resignation.

According to Audi Siegel, the political affairs commentator on Channel 2 TV, the only solution for the Gaza predicament is for Israel to recognise Gaza as an independent entity and deal with all the consequences. Also writing in Maariv, Siegel said that it has become evident that Israel’s ability to control the resistance in Gaza and destroy the Hamas movement is zero. He noted that all the assumptions upon which Israel made the decision to launch a war on Gaza have collapsed.

Siegel said that recognising the Hamas government in Gaza might improve the security environment for Israel. If not, he added, it would possible to garner international support to justify any military step Israel might then take against the territory.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Members of UAE ‘aid convoy’ revealed as intelligence agents

MEMO | July 20, 2014

Forty members of the UAE “aid convoy” which entered the Gaza Strip last week have been revealed as intelligence agents. They were, it is believed, trying to collect information about Hamas and its infrastructure in the besieged territory.

According to one informed source, a local Palestinian recognised one of the agents as a soldier in the UAE armed forces. He contacted the security forces in Gaza who took the agent in for questioning.

Other members of the “aid convoy” then made contact with officials in the United Arab Emirates. In turn, they asked disgraced Fatah official Mohamed Dahlan, who now lives in and is sponsored by the UAE government, to try to secure a safe and swift exit for the agents.

“Dahlan called one of his followers from Fatah who spoke with Hamas officials and they agreed to let the convoy leave immediately,” the source said.

Palestinians in Gaza were surprised by the sudden exit of the UAE personnel on Saturday. The field hospital that they had ostensibly arrived to set-up was left uncompleted.

Commentators say that suspicions should have been aroused when the convoy was allowed by the Egyptians to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, as no other convoys have been allowed to enter since the start of the Israeli attack and invasion. Media reports on Saturday said that the Egyptian army has banned and attacked three international aid convoys trying to enter the enclave.

Egypt has closed Rafah and does not allow wounded Palestinians to travel abroad for treatment or let much-needed medicine and medical equipment to be taken into Gaza.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment